Javier Milei, the firebrand rightwing candidate for the presidency of Argentina, made headlines this week after he was elected the country's next president.
Milei, a former tantric sex coach, self-described admirer of Donald Trump, and political economist has shot to popularity promising radical changes to Argentina's economy, education system and environmental policy.
Official results from Sunday's runoff poll showed Milei won with 55.7% of the vote. His rival, Sergio Massa, conceded in a speech.
"Today begins the reconstruction of Argentina. Today begins the end of Argentina's decline," Milei said in his victory speech."The model of decadence has come to an end. There is no way back."
While Milei's rock-star strutting and mod haircut are widely recognised, what's less discussed is his connection to Judaism.
Milei is a strong supporter of Israel, last year pledging to move Argentina's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, mirroring one of the first moves by President Trump when he took office in early 2017.
And the economist also has a strong tie to the Jewish faith as well as Israel. According to an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais from earlier this year, Milei reads the Torah every single day and regularly converses on Whatsapp with Rabbi Shimon Axel Wahnish, the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Sephardi Moroccan Community of Argentina.
Rabbi Wahnish allegedly told Milei that he should be reading the Jewish holy scriptures for tips on "economic analysis."
Newly elected President of Argentina Javier Milei of La Libertad Avanza speaks after the polls closed (Photo: Getty)
In an interview with a Argentinian Jewish radio station Milei said that Rabbi Wahnish was "a person I love very much, whom I consult regularly.
He added: “These are discussions that suddenly can take two or three hours and that for me are very gratifying and help me grow a lot and understand situations in a much deeper way.”
Milei, who is part of Argentina's Catholic majority, has also been asked if he plans to convert to Judaism, given his relationship with the faith.
Milei told El Pais that being Jewish would be "incompatible with being President of Argentina, noting: "If you’re Jewish because your mother is Jewish, you’re not obliged to comply with the principles of Judaism.
"If you convert, you’re obliged to do so. If I’m president and it’s Shabbat, what do I do? Am I going to disconnect from the country from Friday to Saturday? There are some issues that would make it incompatible."
He has also generated some controversy with his references to Judaism. In January 2022, while discussing the Djokovic Australian Open vaccine row, he described vaccine passports as being similar to the yellow Magen Davids Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.
Argentina. Javier Milei related the health pass to the Star of David.— Agencia AJN (@AgenciaAJN) January 7, 2022
See more: https://t.co/roVddyg0GC#Argentina @andahazi @LANACION @DAIAArgentina @JKnoblovits #holocaust #Jewish pic.twitter.com/lD4rotoOU9
Later that year, he also referenced the story of Esther in a conference speech.
Argentina. Congressman Javier Milei appealed to a Jewish writing during a speech at Expo Agro.— Agencia AJN (@AgenciaAJN) March 23, 2022
See more: https://t.co/mOS2xebvw9#Argentina #Milei #JavierMilei #ExpoAgro @JMilei pic.twitter.com/nxOYdkan3Z
Despite Meli saying he isn't able to convert to Judaism, he has visited an important site of pilgrimage to Orthodox Jews, the tomb of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Queens, New York.
El Ohel de todos... pic.twitter.com/qrGSUfrC4p— Rafi Tawil (@TawilRafi) July 15, 2023
Meli visited the grave site of the former leader of the Chabad movement, joining the tens of thousands who make the pilgrimage every year.