You’ve probably seen Chabad rabbinical students like us, standing at street corners and inviting Jewish passersby to don tefillin, light the shabbat candles, or accept a holiday treat. Only we weren’t in a Jewish hub like New York City, Paris, or Tel Aviv, but in the small town center of the Western Australian city of Fremantle.
We had been at our post for over two hours, and had met and distributed matzah to several Jews, both tourists and locals--quite a success for a place like Fremantle. We were about to head home when we noticed a distinguished-looking gentleman approaching us.
“Excuse me, are you Jewish by any chance?”
“No, I'm not.”
“Can we ask if you have any local Jewish friends?”
“Well actually, I'm not from here,” he replied. “I'm on a cruise and we have a short stopover before traveling again. But it’s funny that you ask me, because I’ve heard that there is something Jewish that will take place on the ship, something called a Seber.”
We quickly realized that he was referring to the Seder. We thanked him, and then our brains went into overdrive: How would we get some matzah to the Jewish passengers on the cruise?
As we neared the water, the magnificent ship, the Queen Mary II, came into view. There was a drawbridge leading to the ship, and we briefly contemplated boarding and giving the matzah to the crew to pass along, when out of the corner of our eyes, we saw a middle-aged couple walking in the direction of the ship.
We had to try our luck.
“Excuse me, are you Jewish?”
They stared at us, wide-eyed. “Yes, we are!”
We quickly discovered that Alan and Sara were from England, and enjoying their long-awaited vacation. The last thing they expected was for Chabad rabbis to approach them and give them handmade matzah (enough for all their Jewish friends, and some Passover guides as well) for their Seder! They thanked us profusely, and then they disappeared into the ship, precious package in tow, while we recounted the incredible Divine Providence we had just witnessed. This was the only day we had scheduled to spend time walking through town--all the other days were jam packed with appointments, home visits, shopping and preparing for the Seder. We happened to bump into the person who told us about the ‘Seber’, and from the thousands of passengers aboard the ship, we met Alan and Sara! It’s doubtful we would have succeeded in convincing the crew members to let us board this exclusive ship, or to distribute the matzah for us.
It was clear as day that G‑d had guided our steps, as emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, to have the great privilege to supply matzah for the Jews celebrating the Seder on a luxurious ocean liner in the middle of the Indian Ocean.