The Cairns Pesach Seder is the largest one arranged by Passover Australia, (Seders are also hosted in Coff’s Harbour, Darwin, and Fremantle) with an average of 100 attendees. In previous years, some have made reservations, while others just showed up. A week before Pesach this year, we already had 100 reservations, which we knew would translate into at least 120 guests. While we were thrilled, there was the issue of logistics—we are not professional chefs, and cooking kosher food for 100 had been a massive and complicated operation. Producing a delicious kosher meal for even larger numbers just seemed an almost impossible feat.

We had one contact who works as a chef. We called him, but he told us that he would be busy that week and could only offer one hour of his time.

On Wednesday, with the Seder less than three days away, we still weren’t sure how we would

pull it off. After a home visit in the morning, we made a quick stop at the local supermarket to get the last items needed to begin our cooking the following day. We then raced back to the car—we had another meeting scheduled for twenty minutes later.

As we were about to pull away we realized there was one more crucial item we had forgotten to purchase. I ran back in, and walking down aisle number two, I heard the unmistakable sound of people conversing in Hebrew. I quickly approached the two men, and greeted them with a huge smile and a warm “Shalom Aleichem.” “Aleichem Shalom,” they both replied, hardly concealing their looks of disbelief.

“What are your names? Do you live in Cairns?” I asked.

The younger of the two, a middle-aged man, responded, “My name’s Rachamim, and I’ve been living in Cairns for almost two years now, and I have not met one Jew!”

“What in the world are you, a rabbi, doing in far-off Cairns?” was his next question.

“We came to make a Seder for the Jewish people here, and I am personally inviting

you to join us!”

“Wow!" Rachamim shouted. “G‑d must have sent you at this moment and in this aisle of the store! Literally a minute ago I asked my father (the man standing beside him) what are we going to do for the Seder this year? I don’t know any other Jews here, and I don’t have matzah or anything else for the Seder. And then out of nowhere, you appeared!”

While we were still digesting what had just transpired, Rachamim turned to me and

asked, “Where are you getting all the kosher food from? Who is cooking it for you?”

“We brought it all up from Melbourne and we are cooking it.”

“Do you know how to cook and for so many people?” Rachamim inquired.

"Not really,” I said, “But Hashem will help us out.”

Rachamim broke into a huge smile. “I am a chef! That’s why my father is here with me. He came from Israel for a few months to help me open a restaurant here in Cairns.”

Now it was my turn to be shocked. Before I could regain my composure, Rachamim went on. “I have the whole day off tomorrow. I’d really like to come and help you; I’ll even bring my father along for extra help. Just tell me a time and place and I’ll be there”.

I felt like dancing. "Look, guys! In front of our eyes a miracle has taken place!”

We hugged, shook hands, and exchanged numbers, and I then ran back to the car with the good news. We would be late for our next visit, and I hadn’t bought the item we had thought we needed–but the real reason for our need to return to the store was now apparent.

The following morning, father and son showed up on schedule, and spent the entire day with us in the kitchen, cooking and chatting. They also put on tefilin, which Ari, Rachamim’s father, had not donned in many years.

On Friday evening, the dynamic duo came early to the Seder to make sure that all the food was under control. Thanks to G‑d and his helpers, the Seder was enhanced by the presence of well over 120 Jews, and a delicious, classy meal that garnered many compliments.

At one point during that night, Rachamim quietly shared the following: “You have no idea what I am witnessing now—my father is one of the most secular Jews you have ever met. I have never in my life seen him by any Jewish or Mitzvah related event, and here I saw him put on tefillin for the first time in my life, and now he is sitting, participating and loving every part of the Seder. You have no idea what this Pesach means for me in my life, I will remember this forever!” A pause and a smile, “Next year, make sure to call me a month before Pesach. We will put together a proper menu, order the proper ingredients and together prepare for the 2017 Pesach Seder.”