In June 1989, amid what would be a successful run for the presidency of Uruguay, then-Sen. Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera visited the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—for a blessing, proudly showing the Rebbe a book, The Path of the Righteous Gentile, that he had been given by Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov, general director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Uruguay.

Thirty years later on the last day of Chanukah, Lacalle Herrera’s son, Uruguay’s president-elect Luis Lacalle Pou, connected again with Chabad-Lubavitch—this time to receive a silver Chanukah menorah from Shemtov.

“He appreciated the menorah very much,” Shemtov told on Tuesday. “He said it expresses one of his values—that people shouldn’t tolerate anyone in spite of their differences, but instead should respect people because of their differences. Just like the lights of the menorah, everyone has a different light to share, and that light should be valued because of its uniqueness.”

The meeting and menorah presentation took place in Lacalle Pou’s campaign headquarters around a conference table in a room that served as the president-elect’s war room during a campaign that ended in a victorious run-off election in late November. Shemtov was accompanied by his wife, Rochel; his son, Rabbi Mendel Shemtov; Mendel’s wife, Musya; and his grandson, Shneur, who was chosen to present the menorah.

Lacalle Pou, whose father was blessed heartily three decades ago at the meeting with the Rebbe at Lubavitch headquarters in the “dollar line,” spent time during Monday’s meeting asking well-thought-out questions about Kabbalah and Chassidut, said Shemtov.

He said the president-elect also took time from the meeting to read a complimentary article that Shemtov had written about an individual from the camp of Lacalle Pou’s opponent who appeared at the victory celebration. Armed with his party’s flag and a handwritten poster of support for the new president-elect, he was received warmly by Lacalle Pou.

The Rebbe said in his comments to Lacalle Pou’s father prior to his successful presidential campaign in 1989, “May G‑d Almighty bless you to have good news, and to use your influence for the benefit of many. Give this dollar to charity, a commandment accepted by all the people of the world.”

It was then that he took out the book, The Path of the Righteous Gentile, a work that elaborates on the seven universal Noahide Laws, and shared with the Rebbe that he was reading it, reaping further encouragement from the Rebbe.

Shemtov similarly provided blessing and encouragement to Lacalle Herrera’s son on Monday, commenting to the media after the menorah presentation that Jews light an extra light in ascending order each of the eight days of Chanukah.

“We conveyed to the president-elect our blessings that his presidency proceed in the same way, with ever-increasing light, and never to rest on the laurels of previous achievements,” said Shemtov. “Another interesting point shared is that there is a ninth flame—the central flame—used to light the other candles. The idea here is that one who is in a leadership position has to have the ability to approach each individual to help them light that potential fire all possess.”

Shneur Shemtov with the president-elect of Uruguay, as his father and grandfather look on. (Photo: Andrés Aksler)
Shneur Shemtov with the president-elect of Uruguay, as his father and grandfather look on. (Photo: Andrés Aksler)