Argentine rabbi made Cabinet minister in ceremony featuring Torah

Cnaan Liphshiz

BUENOS ARIES, Argentina (JTA) — Sergio Bergman, an Argentine rabbi who was appointed his country’s minister for the environment, pledged to serve his county while holding his hand over a copy of the Hebrew Bible.

Bergman was the only new minister who used a Hebrew Bible during Thursday’s ceremony, in which appointed ministers are usually sworn in on the Christian Bible. In keeping with a Jewish tradition to avoid swearing in recognition of God’s ultimate control over man’s actions and circumstances, Bergman also said that he “promised” to serve his country instead of the usual pledge featuring the words “I swear.”

“To  God and the homeland , under the Tanakh, the holy Hebrew bible, yes I do promise,” Bergman said while placing his right hand over the copy provided to him. He was answering a question posed by President Mauricio Macri, who proceeded to hug the rabbi.

He is thought to be the only rabbi serving as a Cabinet minister outside of Israel.

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Bergman’s nomination last week drew praise from the Jewish community of his own country, and from that of neighboring Brazil. CONIB, the umbrella group of Brazilian Jewish communities, on Dec. 7 published a statement which said: “We are confident that you will be able to apply the Jewish values that characterize your performance, inside and outside the community.”

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