Yair Tawil has become the first Jewish citizen to be “adopted” by the president of Argentina, following a tradition that the seventh son or daughter must by law become the godchild of the president
Cristina Kirchner, the president of Argentina, has “adopted” a Jewish boy in order, according to legend, to prevent him from turning into a werewolf.
Yair Tawil, 21, was born in the Argentine city of Rosario, the seventh son of Shlomo and Nehama Tawil.
Under Argentine legend, any seventh consecutive son will grow up to become a werewolf. Any seventh daughter will become a witch.
The belief in the myth was so strong that, centuries ago, the seventh child was often put to death.
According to some reports, Jose Figeroa Alcorta, then-president of Argentina, became the godfather of José Brost, the seventh son of a Enrique Brost and Apolonia Holmann who had emigrated from Russia, in 1907 in a bid to counter the myth.
However, Argentine historian Daniel Balmaceda told the Guardian there is no link between the two traditions. “The local myth of the lobizón [werewolf] is not in any way connected to the custom that began over 100 years ago by which every seventh son (or seventh daughter) born in Argentina becomes godchild to the president,” he said.
Regardless of its origin, the tradition of Argentine presidents adopting the seventh son born to any couple does exist, and was formalised in 1973 by President Juan Domingo Perón, and a year later the ruling was enshrined in law.
Those affected by law 20.843 – “The Law of Presidential Godfathership”, were entitled to presidential protection, a gold medal and a scholarship for all studies until the 21st birthday.
But the ruling only applied to Catholic families, and so in 1993 Mr and Mrs Tawil wrote to the president asking for the honour to be extended to their son, Yair.
The request was denied. But in 2009 the law was changed to apply to all – regardless of their religion.
And just before Christmas, Mrs Kirchner met with Yair, who became the first Jewish godson of a president in Argentina’s history.
The president in her tweets and photos described to her 3.4 million Twitter followers a “magical moment” with a “marvellous family.” She described Yair as “a total sweety,” and his mother a “Queen Esther.”
She tweeted that the Tawils “are a very special family. They have a sort of peace, happiness and a lot of love that is not common.”
Mrs Kirchner adopted her first “godson” in 2008. In 2012 she adopted another, Natanael Eric, who was also born in Rosario, and last year three more boys – all of them born in the northern province of Santa Fe.
The Argentine president had been due to usher in the New Year with a visit to the Vatican, to see her compatriot Pope Francis.
But a fall on Boxing Day, when she slipped on a wet floor in her home, caused her to fracture her ankle.
On Monday it was announced that she had cancelled the trip and suspended official events for the beginning of next month.