BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Rabbi Sergio Bergman, newly elected to Argentina’s national parliament, will miss the opening session because it occurs on Shabbat.
The session is scheduled for Saturday, when the newly elected parliament will be seated and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will deliver the State of the Union address.
Bergman told JTA that he has the support of his center-right PRO party, for whom he will be representing Buenos Aires City, to miss his first parliamentary session. He also requested and received permission from the president of the parliament chamber to miss the session, noting that there is “a constitutional guarantee of freedom of worship.”
Shabbat “is a day of introspection and in the case of a rabbi is the day that is dedicated exclusively to spiritual issues in the community,” Bergman said in an email Thursday from Rome minutes before a scheduled meeting with Pope Francis as part of an Argentine interfaith mission. “My fellow party members respect me on this point; it is part of the diversity and plurality of our party.”
Bergman, who is believed to be the only rabbi elected to a national parliament outside of Israel, will make his debut in the Lower House of the National Congress on Monday. The PRO Party won 34.5 percent of the vote in elections in late October.