Rabbi Bentzion Butman, the Chabad rabbi to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, expanded his Passover activities this year to include the town of Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s only port city. It’s a popular tourist spot since it features an array of beaches, as well as the port where boats depart to Cambodia’s southern islands.

As the ‘feet on the ground’ in this endeavor, Monday morning saw us loading the car with all the Passover essentials in advance of the four-hour journey from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville.

Our first order of business was finding a suitable venue for the Seder. We needed a room that could seat 70, had air conditioning, and was close enough to the port. Our plan was to walk in the direction of the port and stop off at the many hotels and shops, to find a spot for the Seder as well as guests to fill the tables.

Things moved fast. We met Samuel, a Jew from Mexico, only two minutes into our walk. He greeted us warmly and seemed happy with our company. While we were helping him put on tefillin (only his second time), a Jewish girl from France walked by, sized us up, and asked if we knew of a Seder in the area. She had searched online but hadn’t found anything. “So G‑d brought Chabad to you,” we quipped.

Samuel informed us of a Jewish couple who worked down the road. On the way over, we met Alex, a Jewish tourist from Toronto, who had no religious affiliation, but still separated from his group in favor of chatting with us.

Early the next morning, our first stop was a hotel located right on the port. We were hoping it would work for the Seder somehow. We were thrilled when Charles, the Malaysian manager, expressed interest in hosting this religious event, and promised to figure out all the logistics.

That took a huge load off our backs, and we were free to focus on other things, like distributing the many pounds of matzah we had brought. We stepped outside, and found many happy customers. Our only request was that they wait until Passover night to eat the matzah, and share some with the other Jews they would encounter.

That afternoon, we met with David S., who arrived in Sihanoukville in 2014, eager to make Cambodia his new home. At the moment, his connection to G‑d and Judaism was tenuous at best, but when we asked if he’d put on tefillin, he readily agreed. Apparently, that act awoke some dormant part of his soul, and David immediately asked if we could learn with him at his home. A short study session was followed by a more in depth one the following day, when he brought us to his home to learn his book of choice—the Tanya. We then shifted gears and began preparing for the Seder, with David and his friend drafted into kitchen duty.

Friday passed quickly in a whirl of activity, and as the sun set over the port, fifty Jewish souls trickled into the room which had been set up exactly to our specifications, thank G‑d. We sang and rejoiced as one, celebrating our faith, our unity, and the act of leaving Egypt once again, this time in the beach town of Sihanoukville.