On Monday, my friend Chaim and I arrived in Vina Del Mar, Chile.

Immediately, we were struck by two things: the frigid temperatures—a real change of pace from the heat wave we’d just left in New York, and the absolute beauty of our surroundings.

Vina Del Mar is known as The Garden City, and with its lush parks, abundant palm trees, and blooming flowers, it certainly lives up to that name. The city also boasts large stretches of white sand beaches backed by mountains. But unlike your typical tourist, we had no plans to visit the attractions, or spend leisurely hours taking in the views. We would only be spending a short time here before continuing on to our next assignment, so finding every Jew in Vina was our top priority.

We grabbed our tefillin and other paraphernalia, and headed to Avenida Valparaíso, the main shopping strip.

The proprietors of the first eight shops we walked into were all pleasant, but decidedly non-Jewish.

Chabad rabbis are nothing if not persistent. We tried a nondescript jewelry store next. As soon as we entered, the elderly owner stared at us, his eyes bulging. Granted, we were quite a sight, with our black hats, suits and beards, but since we had not received such a reaction at our previous stops, we hoped we were on to something.

Without much preamble, we asked him. “Excuse me, are you Jewish?”

“Yes,” he replied swiftly. “I’m Carlos, and like you, I am Jewish!”

We took out our tefillin. “Carlos, how about we put on tefillin together today?”

Carlos was more than accommodating. As he was saying the Shema prayer, while wrapped in the tefillin, he burst into heavy sobs. It was several long moments until he was able to compose himself. We gently helped him take off the tefillin, and then waited until he was ready to talk.

“It’s been 70 years now since my bar mitzvah. That was the only time in my life that I've ever put on tefillin. Who would have thought that I would merit another chance, especially since I've settled here, in a place with so few Jews...”

We spent the next hour in warm conversation with Carlos, as he shared details of his Jewish background, and Jewish life in Chile, past and current.

"Carlos, we have a mezuzah for you, can we hang it on the door of your shop? You will get Divine protection, and it will signify the proud Jew that you are!”

Needless to say, he readily agreed, and we affixed the M\mezuzah under his watchful eye.

“We have to go now, Carlos. We are going to try to find some other Jews. Now that you have a mezuzah on your door, every Jew who walks by will know that you are a fellow Jew. And, G‑d willing, you will get a chance to put on tefillin again in the very near future!