BUENOS AIRES – German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed on Thursday members of the Argentine Jewish community at a Buenos Aires synagogue and urged fighting antisemitism and working for freedom and democracy.
Merkel inaugurated on Thursday the recently restored Walcker organ built in Germany in 1931 specifically for the Templo Libertad synagogue in the Argentine capital, an instrument that she said is a positive symbol of the “bridge between Argentina and Germany.”
The German leader, who on Thursday is on her first visit to the South American country, thanked the local religious community for taking in those Jews who were able to flee Germany during the Third Reich headed by Adolf Hitler.
She noted that “the German past” nowadays serves to remind people of the need to fight against antisemitism and for freedom and democracy.
Merkel also said that there exists the “living and painful” reminder of antisemitism in the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, which left 29 people dead and came two years before the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association that killed 85 people and wounded more than 300.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Simon Moguilevsky thanked the chancellor for the contribution of almost 500,000 pesos (about $31,200) that her country had provided to restore the organ, which was declared a National Historic Monument in 2000.
The rabbi said that the world is supported by three elements: the truth, the law and peace, virtues that – he said – Merkel exemplifies.
“We hope that there will be more personalities like the chancellor,” he added.
The Argentine Jewish community includes about 250,000 people, a figure that places it among the six largest such communities in the world and makes it the largest in Latin America.