We were browsing the aisles of a supermarket in Lake Havasu, Arizona, in search of some kosher snacks. We had plans to visit the Jews in many of the cities in the Arizona desert, including Yuma, Kingman, and Casa Grande, and needed some food for the road.

“Hey, looks like you guys shop like pros!” A friendly-looking middle-aged gentleman said to us.

“Thanks, are you Jewish by any chance?”

“No,” he chuckled. “But oftentimes I wish I was. I really do love the Jewish nation, and I appreciate the fact that our country holds them and their land in such high regard.”

Our newfound friend was about to continue on his way, when he turned around and added. “But I do have some Jewish blood in me.”

We quickly asked him to explain.

“I am a quarter Jewish.”

Our hearts racing, we inquired which side of the family. His mother’s side, he replied. And upon further probing, he revealed that his maternal grandmother has been fully, completely Jewish.

We stood there in utter shock, speechless. After what seemed like an eternity, Nachum blurted out, “You know, not only do you wish you were Jewish, you really are Jewish. And not only do you love the Jewish nation, but you love your own nation.”

He was stunned.

“You see,” I continued, “the Jewish religion is passed through the mother. That means that you are one hundred percent Jewish, with one hundred percent Jewish blood.”

It started to sink in. As he stood there trying to absorb this life-altering news, we gently asked him if he knew what a bar mitzvah was. He nodded. We coaxed him to follow us outside, where he would be able to have a bar mitzvah that very day.

We retrieved the tefillin from our car, and explained what we were about to do. We helped him wrap the tefillin, and had him repeat the prayers after us. We sang “Siman Tov, Mazel Tov,” snapped lots of pictures, and had an impromptu bar mitzvah dance in the parking lot.

It was time to wrap things up. We wrote down his contact information, gave him our business card, and promised to stay in touch.

We were heading back inside to finish our shopping, when he said something that is still ringing in our ears. “My mom, she just died,” his voice choked up. “And I know it was her who sent you to find me.”