A young non-Orthodox man had flown into Seattle for a business trip with one thing on his mind: besides for his business transactions, which would affect his company in a huge and improved way, he had promised himself not to miss saying Kaddish for his mother, who had recently passed away.

Prior to his trip he called us up, and we had agreed to take him with us to the closest synagogue that would be holding services three times a day. That was to be our arrangement for every day except the day that he was leaving, as his flight was at 7 AM and holding prayers in time for him to catch his flight would mean starting at 4:30 in the morning.

We picked him up from his hotel for the first time. By chance—or rather, by fate—we put the wrong address into our GPS, leading us to a Jewish college dormitory that houses a synagogue on the first floor. Not knowing that it was the wrong place, we went in asking about services. They were quite amused, since the only time they use the synagogue is maybe on a Friday for a nice Shabbat meal. We left in a hurry just in time to catch the minyan (prayer gathering) at the right location. During the four days he was with us, he kept on inquiring if we had organized a minyan for the Friday of his departure. Not wanting to get his hopes up, we sorely said it does not look possible; there was no one willing to get up at 4 to be at services by 4:30.

Thursday morning, as we were driving to synagogue, he asked, “What about those boys we met from the dormitory? I’m sure we could arrange a minyan there, and I’ll even give a little something to whoever comes.” Later on we drove to the dormitory and told them about the man’s predicament. It didn’t take long ’til we had seven agreeing boys who said they would probably still be up then anyway. The minyan was set for 4:30 AM at their place.

The next morning, as we rolled in, so did they. We looked around and no one had a pair of tefillin. We started asking around, and most of them didn’t know what tefillin were. They had agreed to attend the minyan not knowing what it was or how to do it—like going to a show not knowing what to expect. To them, their Jewish life consisted of being bar mitzvahed at age thirteen, by getting called up to the Torah and having a party, and that was it. With time tugging at us, we quickly put tefillin on and said the Shema with each boy, which was quite an activity for the ones who had never done it before, and then the businessman said Kaddish. We explained some aspects of Judaism, danced and sang to celebrate the new bar mitzvahs, told over some inspiring stories, got everyone’s numbers to keep in touch, and were on our way.

This is not just a story that is being told over by a roving rabbi. All these stories that you read are small sparks of Judaism waiting to ignite into chapter-books and a whole new world. For each of these seven boys, their story is just beginning. They are about to embark on a journey they have never really known before.

Who knows where the stories will end?