Rogelio Cichowolsky, 57, Head of Argentine Jewish Community

Rogelio Cichowolsky, president of the political umbrella organization of Argentine Jewry, died Monday at 57 after a long battle with lung cancer.

“He was a friend, a man of peace, an indefatigable defender of justice and equality,” Argentine President Fernando de la Rua said.

Since assuming the presidency of DAIA in January 1999, Cichowolsky led efforts to pass an anti-discrimination law and to create the National Anti- Discrimination Institute, over which he later presided.

While maintaining close ties with the government, Cichowolsky was very critical of the lack of progress in the investigations into the terror bombings of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the AMIA Jewish community center in 1994. More than 100 people died in the attacks combined.

He also criticized the government for not taking measures against Iran, which he considered responsible for the bombings.

During his tenure, Cichowolsky made efforts to distance himself from his predecessor and mentor, banker Ruben Beraja. Beraja left the DAIA after a financial scandal that forced the shutdown of his Banco Mayo bank, one of the primary funders of Jewish communal activities in Argentina.

Cichowolsky was buried Tuesday at La Tablada Cemetery near Buenos Aires. He is survived by his wife, Silvia, and three children.

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