All the president’s rabbis

The Lubavitcher rebbe had a saying that when two people met, something good had to happen for a third. And for this to have an immediate effect, he had incorporated the custom of giving a dollar to each person who visited him so that they would then add a little more money and donate it. In 1989, when he was still alive, he went to visit Luis Alberto Lacalle, the father of the current president of Uruguay, who, in the middle of the campaign, asked him for a blessing to win the elections. A few weeks later, Lacalle would be elected president, a story similar to that of Javier Milei. Already during his administration, on a protocol visit to Argentina, Lacalle mentioned the episode to then-president Carlos Menem and showed him the dollar, which, instead of donating it, he had kept as a lucky dollar. Menem also took a dollar out of his wallet and told him that the Lubavitch rebbe had sent it to him through Eduardo Eurnekian. In other words, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitch rebbe, or “teacher” according to a rough translation, is a well-known person in Argentine and regional politics.

Now, Milei brings him back to the scene for his recent trip to the United States to thank him, at the foot of his grave, for the election result.

Origins. The libertarian became interested in Judaism because he had as a student Saúl Sutton, one of the sons of David Sutton, the owner of the Alvear Hotel, who, in addition to economics, was also studying to be a rabbi. In one of his conversations, he was interested in the way of reasoning the questions that Sutton’s heir had and he told him that it arose from his study of the Torah. That was enough for Milei to approach Judaism.

Its rabbi is called Axel Wahnish and here begins the mix of Jewish currents that embrace the elected president. Wahnish is a leading Orthodox rabbi of the Moroccan Jewish community. On the other hand, the libertarian also generated a strong bond with the Chabad Lubavitch branch – that of the rebbe – which in Argentina has businessman Eduardo Elsztain as one of its greatest benefactors. An equivalent in Christianity would be Gregorio Pérez Companc, who makes constant contributions to institutions of the Catholic Church.

Another rabbi who was in contact with Milei post-election was the French Kabbalist David Pinto. This was one of the most publicized meetings in recent weeks because Milei went to visit them at an apartment in the Once neighborhood and in the viral videos you could see the commotion that arose in the neighborhood. Along with Pinto, there was Rabbi Uriel Husni, who accompanied him throughout his stay in Argentina, and also businessman Cesar Wengrower, owner of Industrias SICA, manufacturers of light knobs, among other electrical devices. At Wengrower’s side was Marcelo Wolodarsky, the Argentine lobbyist for the Dubai owner of the Four Seasons hotel, Ali Albwardy. These images begin to show the environment of the new President. Another example: when Milei traveled to Miami in September to spend the Sabbath with friends, she stayed at the house of Patricio Fucks, also a member of the Chabad Lubavitch movement.

The person who accompanied Milei on his visit to the tomb of the Lubavitcher rebbe is Gerardo Werthein, a famous member of the Jewish community who will be the next ambassador to the United States. It will be necessary to see if he gets his document approved in the Senate by the Kirchnerist bench. Cristina Kirchner does not have good memories of Werthein from his time at Telecom. As happened with the Eskenazi family, the vice president believes that her husband Néstor helped a lot to get them into her company and after her death they forgot about her. She considers them ungrateful.

A much less publicized encounter was with Rabbi David Yosef, son of the late Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef of Israel. No photos were released of this meeting and it was held before the trip to the United States.

Since taking office, Milei has met with rabbis of different Orthodox persuasions. He was not with reformists or conservatives, which could lead to a Jewish intern just out of jealousy.

Future. Two questions that arise in this context: what will Milei do with the chapel that is inside the Casa Rosada? Will it add an office for her rabbi? In the White House, for example, there is an office that liaises with the Jewish community. It wouldn’t be strange to see Milei imitate that idea.

The other question is: will he convert to Judaism? This is much more difficult, because to do so you must comply with three non-negotiable Jewish traditions: eating kosher food, respecting the Sabbath, and marrying a Jewish woman. For this he should separate from Fátima Florez.

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