My phone buzzed. I quickly scanned the email. “You have been selected to be a part of the Rabbinical Student Visitation Program. Assignment: Poland.”

Poland. Its recent memories make us shiver, but we are determined to help the Jews who still live there. We would be spending Passover in Szczecin, which is up north, close to the border with Germany.

We left on March 31, which coincided with the 113th birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, who founded this program 72 years ago.

After several delays, many hours and a couple of misunderstandings, we settled into our motel.

We contacted Mikolai, the community head, to make the arrangements for the Seder. In broken English he told us that he would meet us at our motel at ten o’clock the next morning and take us to the synagogue.

The synagogue turned out to be a second-floor, two-room apartment with a tiny kitchen. One room was used as the synagogue; the other was designated as the social hall. Unfortunately, all four of the synagogue’s old Torah scrolls could no longer be used.

It was time to breathe some life into the place and set up for the Seder. Just in time, our shipment of food and supplies arrived from Warsaw, and we brought the boxes upstairs. Between cooking and shopping, all in a foreign city, we finished with barely minutes to spare.

Our guests started arriving at 6:30 pm. We welcomed them warmly, trying to figure out who could be our translator. Rosa, an older woman, seemed to fit the bill. Yiddish was her childhood language, and she was thrilled to be able to help out. She had been yearning to converse in Yiddish for quite a few years, and here was a great opportunity!

Before the Seder, the women lit candles. As we progressed through the Seder, everyone took turns reading parts out loud in Polish. We could tell from their expressions that they really identified with the story—most of them had been oppressed during their lifetime, and they understood the meaning of slavery and freedom. Rosa translated for us with much animation and emotion, and that contributed a lot. We made sure to include lots of stories and songs, too.

The next afternoon, Rosa stopped by the synagogue and asked if we would like to join her for a walk around the city. While showing us the sights of Szczecin, she shared its tragic history.

Szczecin was the first Polish city invaded by the Nazis. After the War, when the surviving Jews returned to rebuild their lives, the Poles attached and killed many of them in a deadly pogrom. Over the years, some Jews trickled back in, mainly from Russia, but the vast majority had moved to greener pastures, including Israel. Less than 30 Jewish people now live in this city which was once home to 400,000.

We returned to the synagogue, determined to utilize our remaining time in Szczecin to rejuvenate our fellow Jews, beginning with the second Seder. Seven people attended, and it was an inspiring and intimate evening. Like any family gathering, everyone stayed to chat long after the conclusion of the Seder.

The next day we spent time conversing with Mikolai. He told us that he had been raised in a staunchly Communist home. His mother, who was from an Orthodox family, fell ill at a young age, and called Mikolai to her deathbed. She said she deeply regretted forsaking her roots, and urged Mikolai to learn about his heritage.

That was a turning point in Mikolai's life, and he began his Jewish journey, ultimately becoming head of the community. Though his knowledge was limited, he felt passionate about keeping the Jewish faith alive for the few Jews left in Szczecin. When night fell, marking the end of the holiday, we printed out a picture of the Rebbe for Mikolai. He was clearly moved. “I already feel the Rebbe’s blessings," he told us. We said a heartfelt goodbye, and began to prepare for the long trip home.

As we traveled, we had plenty of time to reflect on our experiences. We were proud to be able to walk on the streets of Poland, proclaiming our Jewish identity in a city where so many Jews were killed simply for being Jewish. We were honored to be able to make a Seder for people who had risked so much to practice their Judaism. And we felt privileged to be the Rebbe’s emissaries to bring the light of Torah and mitzvahs to this dark corner of the world.