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Ohel visit

Javier Milei, Argentina’s president-elect, makes surprise visit to Lubavitcher Rebbe’s grave

During his visit to the gravesite, Milei lit a candle and read from prayers he had written on a note before his arrival, according to Motti Seligson, a spokesperson for Chabad

Chabad

Argentina's president-elect Javier Milei and his sister, Karina Milei, pay their respects at the resting place of Rebbetzin Chaya Muska Schneerson after praying at the resting place of the Rebbe.

Javier Milei, Argentina’s philosemitic president-elect, made a surprise visit to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s gravesite in New York City on Monday morning, marking his first trip abroad since he claimed victory last week.

The 53-year-old libertarian newcomer, a former TV pundit who pulled off an upset over Argentina’s center-left economy minister, paid his respects at the Queens burial place of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the revered spiritual leader who died nearly 30 years ago, a day before his scheduled meeting with President Joe Biden’s national security advisor in Washington.

During his visit to the Ohel, the stone structure where the rebbe is interred, Milei, wearing a black kippah, gave tzedakah (made a donation to charity), lit a candle and read from prayers he had written on a note before his arrival, according to Motti Seligson, a spokesperson for Chabad. It was Milei’s second trip to the gravesite in two months.

“It’s very clear that Mr. Milei is deeply spiritual and he’s inspired by the rebbe’s teachings,” Seligson told Jewish Insider on Monday. “He came today seeking blessings for the road ahead and for his people and his country.”

Milei, a Roman Catholic, is reportedly converting to Judaism and regularly studies Torah with a Buenos Aires rabbi, he said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais this summer. 

The self-described anarcho-capitalist, whose inauguration is scheduled for Dec. 10, is also an outspoken supporter of Israel. He has pledged to move Argentina’s embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as he reiterated during a Havdalah ceremony, to mark the end of Shabbat, in a Jewish neighborhood of Buenos Aires on Saturday evening.

On his pilgrimage to Schneerson’s grave on Monday, the Argentinian leader was joined by Mendy Kotlarsky, a Chabad rabbi, and Simon Jacobson, a Chabad scholar who met with Milei when he visited New York City in September and stopped at the Ohel.

Milei, who could not be reached for comment, declined to speak with reporters during his visit to the rebbe’s tomb on Monday — which was not announced in advance.

“It was very much a personal trip for him,” Seligson told JI.

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