Have you ever had the opportunity to visit a third-world country? A place where poverty and unrest are rampant, and basic conveniences like electricity and running water are scarce?

My friend and I are spending the summer as roving rabbis in Nepal, one of Asia’s poorest and most underdeveloped countries. We are based in the heart of Nepal—the Kathmandu Chabad House—which serves as a welcoming home to all. Already we have met Israeli backpackers looking for guidance, American Jews in search of kosher food and tefillin, and a group of teens who were eager to learn about the beauty of their heritage.

A few days ago, during a rare lull in Chabad House activities, we went out to the “My name is Boris, but you can call me MordechaiThamel shopping district, hoping to encounter a Jewish tourist or two. Making our way through the narrow, teeming streets, we pegged a gentleman as a possible candidate.

“Excuse me, are you Jewish?” we asked.

The man was about to turn a corner. “Yes,” he replied with a heavy Russian accent. “My name is Boris, but you can call me Mordechai.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, trained us to reach out to every Jew, because one Jew doing one mitzvah can make a world of difference. Using the little bit of Russian I have picked up over the years, I invited Boris to walk with us back to the Chabad House. Ten minutes later, Boris was seated in the living room, enjoying a cup of tea and the homey atmosphere. “Boris, would you like to put on tefillin?”

“I don’t know what that is!”

Boris looked at us quizzically. “What did you say? I don’t know what that is!”

After a lot of explaining on our part, he agreed. We helped him put on tefillin, said the prayers together word by word, and Mordechai had his bar mitzvah at the age of thirty-four. We broke out the schnapps and celebrated the occasion with chassidic singing and dancing.

Mordechai was extremely moved by his bar mitzvah. So much so, that he is traveling to Israel next month, where he plans to buy his of own pair of tefillin to don each morning.