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Argentina: President ‘Adopts’ Young Man In Centuries-Old Custom

Argentina's President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said she had a "magical moment" when she adopted a young man as part of an old custom brought to Argentina by European immigrants.

Kirchner shared photos from a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony on her blog and described "adopting" a young Jewish man named Yair Tawil. According to reports, he is the seventh son of his family.

Argentina's presidents since 1907 have been adopting — symbolically, anyway — the seventh children as part of a custom brought over by Russian immigrants, according to The Guardian newspaper. That custom over time has been linked over time to a centuries-old legend that the seventh son is supposedly cursed to become a werewolf on every full moon after his 13th birthday unless he is adopted by another family.

Kirchner never referenced the werewolf myth in her blog about the ceremony, but said in a series of tweets the moment was "magical" and that the Tawils are a "marvelous family."

The Argentinian presidential practice of adopting godchildren has traditionally involved Catholic-born kids, but that was changed by decree in 2009. Under the country's law, seventh children adopted by the president receive a gold medal and an education scholarship until they turn 21. Last Tuesday's ritual was the first time someone of the Jewish faith was adopted by a president. Yair's parents, Shlomo and Nehama Tawil, had first written a letter asking that their seventh son be adopted in 1993, when he was born, reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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— Erik Ortiz