Netanya inaugurates first-ever Spanish public library wing in Israel

Last week, the City of Netanya inaugurated the first-ever Spanish section in a public library in Israel.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Perhaps only in Israel would the opening of a relatively modest section of a library bring out so many high-powered individuals. But such was the case in the City of Netanya last week when it inaugurated the first-ever Spanish section of a public library in Israel.

The charming event took place on Thursday, Nov. 29, and included delicious Spanish cuisine, art and music. Attending the event were the ambassadors of Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile, as well as representatives from the embassies of Panama and Spain.

Also in attendance was Netanya’s popular long-time mayor, Miriam Feirberg, and also Professor Ernesto Kahan, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

Uruguay is the first country to donate to the new Spanish wing of the Netanya public library, contributing over 100 books featuring the nation’s best-known authors. The collection covered all genres, from children’s books to novels and histories.

The library was decked out with a picture exhibition of Uruguay, featuring its food, dance, countryside and gauchos.

The Ambassador of Uruguay, Bernardo Greiver, made quite an impression when he addressed the audience in Hebrew. Ambassador Greiver has been in his position about a year, though he previously served in the post from 2009 to 2015.

Ambassador Greiver thanked Mayor Feirberg “for opening your doors to Latin American culture.”

“It’s very meaningful for me to be able to bring books here to Israel, which is the land of the book, the land of the people of the book,” he said.

Ambassador Greiver told World Israel News, “It’s wonderful to open the Spanish section. Every country in Latin America is going to have a space here to share the culture of their nation. We are just the first.”

The idea for a Spanish section of the Netanya library was the initiative of successful novelist Elizeth Schluk. Born and raised in Uruguay, she made Aliyah two years ago, and was surprised to find that there was no Spanish section in the Netanya library, which did have a Russian, French and English section.

“I remember how important the public library was for me as a child,” Schluk said, who recalled the day she received her first library card at the age of 11. “I wanted others to have that, too.”

About six months ago, Schluk turned to the Latin American embassies and Netanya municipal library with the idea for a Spanish section. She found they were enthusiastic. She said she was pleased to see her initiative come to reality, estimating that there are at least 300 Spanish readers in Netanya who use the library regularly.

Netanya’s vivacious Mayor Feirberg told World Israel News that adding a Spanish section is a perfect fit for Netanya, a city which prides itself on its immigrants and “perfectly illustrates the Zionist dream in the State of Israel.”

“There’s no city that absorbs immigrants like Netanya,” Mayor Feirberg said. “We have many immigrants from South America. We have our own ulpan with 600 students from around the world. It warms the heart to see this. And it’s wonderful that such as respected group of ambassadors came to help us celebrate.”