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Argentina’s President Adopts First Jewish ‘Godson’ Under 1920s Werewolf Law

In a breakthrough ceremony for Argentina based on laws meant to prevent the mass killing or abandoning of the seventh child of a family due to superstition, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner adopted a 21-year-old Jewish man as a national “Godson” this week, the first non-Catholic to receive the bizarre patronage from the South American country.

“It was magical to receive Iair Tawil, first Presidential Godson in our history to profess the Jewish faith,” President Kirchner wrote on Twitter. In a series of Tweets, she described the ceremony– in which she lit a menorah to honor the Hanukkah holiday, as “incredible and magical.”

Tawil is a member of a Chabad-Lubavitch family and, like all Godsons of the Nation in Argentina, the seventh boy in succession in his family. JTA reports that, while he is the first Jewish person to receive this honor, he is one of a long line of seventh children to be adopted by the Argentine government. The law heralds back to the 1920s and was created in response to a superstition that had caused a national crisis: it was believed that the seventh of seven boys, or the seventh of seven girls, in any given family would be born a werewolf. As a result, these children were often given up for adoption, killed, or abandoned.

The law allows for the Argentine government to adopt the children as “godchildren,” and in the process allocates resources for their full education and presidential protection. As the law was meant to save “werewolf” children, it applied only to biological seventh children of Catholic families until 2009, when the religious prerequisite was eliminated. As Kirchner’s website explains: “Law 20.843 guarantees patronage of the President of the Nation in functions at the moment of birth of the seventh male son or female daughter of a family comprised exclusively of single-sex offspring.” Kirchner also posted a number of photos lighting and, later, blowing out, the candles on a menorah the family brought her from Israel:

Tawil told Argentine newspaper La Voz that he felt very comfortable with the President, and explained their interaction: “We brought her Hanukkah candles and, when we told her to light them, she accepted immediately,” he noted. “Later we left her the menorah as a present. She asked what the holiday was about and we told her. I got something very good out of this.”

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