Guma Aguiar.(Wikipedia)
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Who’s Behind a New Kotel Chabad Center?

Guma Aguiar, the possibly unstable Israeli sports tycoon!

Allison Hoffman
April 15, 2011
Guma Aguiar.(Wikipedia)

The last we heard from Guma Aguiar, 33, the profligate Brazilian-born Floridian who for a time underwrote Jerusalem’s soccer and basketball teams, he had been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital outside Tel Aviv following a highly public breakdown in which he told the press that he had rescued the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit from Gaza and was hiding him in an apartment somewhere in Jerusalem. Also, a few days before, Aguiar had told Tablet Magazine that his uncle, the billionaire gold investor and philanthropist Thomas Kaplan, was paying off the United States military and using GPS devices to track Aguiar in connection with an ongoing lawsuit over the proceeds of the $2.55 billion sale of their natural-gas exploration venture, Leor Energy.

Well, that was January 2010. Now, we hear, Aguiar’s back in Bal Harbour, where last night he was scheduled to unveil plans for a new visitor center at the Western Wall to be devoted to the Lubavitcher rebbe. Tentatively titled 770 Western Parkway—a nod to the Chabad movement’s Brooklyn headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway—the facility is supposed to offer “substantive food for thought” to people visiting Judaism’s holiest site, according to a quote from Aguiar on the Lubavitch Website. “People walk away from the Kotel and are not sure how to translate the spiritual high they feel into something concrete,” Aguiar said. “It would allow me to finally gift to others what I have been so fortunate myself to have—a life enriched by the inspiration and impact of the Rebbe.”

Allison Hoffman is a senior editor at Tablet Magazine. Her Twitter feed is @allisont_dc.