The morning after Purim, Rabbi Ari Weingarten of Chabad at Texas State University contacted us with an exciting proposition. Would we be interested in travelling to Lubbock, Texas, for Passover? The hub-city of northwest Texas, home to Texas Tech University, is 350 miles away from any major Jewish community. Its small Jewish population and isolated location checked all the boxes for a Roving Rabbi visit. We jumped at the opportunity.

Our task was to ensure that every Jew in the region would have the opportunity to celebrate Passover, which meantBill expressed his disinterest and hung up making arrangements to host a community Seder. With the guidance of Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff at Chabad Texas Regional Headquarters, and the assistance of Rabbi Dov Mandel of Chabad of Fort-Worth, we began to set things in motion. We reserved the Lubbock Marriott as our Seder venue, placed a kosher food order, and sent a press release to the local paper. In a matter of days, we were in business.

When we began making phone calls and connecting with the local Jews, we gained a better understanding as to how significant this Roving Rabbi visit was for so many. Phone call after phone call, they expressed their appreciation and excitement. The vast majority of the people we reached were overjoyed that two young rabbis would be visiting the city, and eagerly made plans to meet with us or join the Seder. The sense of kinship and warmth that we felt from the Jews of Lubbock was truly remarkable.

Naturally, there were a few exceptions, such as that Wednesday afternoon when we called Bill, an accomplished lawyer. The phone call began with our standard line: “Hi Bill, my name is Naftoli and I’ll be visiting Lubbock ahead of Passover – we’d love if you could join our Seder.” Nonplussed, Bill expressed his disinterest, explained that he is not involved with the local Jewish community, and hung up.

One hour later, Bill called back! “Hi Rabbi, I wanted to apologize for that chilly phone conversation earlier.” This certainly didn’t fit the script! “I’ve never in my life received such a call, and I never thought that living out here, someone would reach out just to offer me an opportunity to celebrate my Judaism.” By way of an explanation, Naftali shared some of the background behind the Roving Rabbis project founded by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 1943. “The Rebbe taught that no Jew can be left behind. There is no Jew who does not deserve the opportunity to connect with their Judaism.” Bill’s tone had changed completely as he jotted down the details of the community Seder, and he assured us that this was an opportunity he would not miss. Before hanging up, he added that it had been so long since he had a seat at a Seder table that he couldn’t imagine celebrating this year. But our call had stirred something inside of him, and inspired by the Rebbe's love and commitment to every Jew, he eagerly awaited the Seder.

When we arrived in Lubbock several days before Passover, we immediately sprang into action. We spent our time delivering matzah and connecting with local Jews. While we listened and shared, we gained an understanding of their needs, and sought to provide them with Jewish resources not otherwise available.

One of the highlights was our meeting with Bill at his office. Thrilled to see us, Bill invited us to sit. We spent some time together as he reflected on his life as a Jew in Lubbock. We discussed our common Jewish interests and perspectives, and he reminded us of that initial “failed” phone call, again expressing his amazement at the Rebbe who taught that no Jew is too small or too far away to be important.

That week in Lubbock flew by in aHe reflected on his life as a Jew in Lubbock whirlwind of back-to-back meetings and Passover preparations. As the Seder was about to commence in the beautifully set ballroom, Bill walked through the door. “I’ve brought you a surprise gift!” he exclaimed with a beaming smile. It was Jacob, a fellow lawyer who Bill had discovered was also Jewish and invited to join us in what would be Jacob’s first Jewish experience since childhood. In the remaining moments before sundown, Bill and Jacob took the opportunity to put on tefillin for the first time in their lives. Bill’s proud recitation of the Shema while wrapped in tefillin was just the beginning of an amazing evening. There was great energy in the room that night as Jews of all ages and backgrounds celebrated the Passover Seder together. Needless to say, Bill thoroughly enjoyed the Seder, and at some point during the evening we pledged to keep in contact with each other.

Bill was one of the nearly 100 Jews whom we touched and who inspired us during our time in Lubbock. We enjoyed a Passover full of rich experiences that we will cherish for a lifetime. But Bill showed us that no positive effort is for naught, as the Jewish soul is always aflame. And when one Jewish soul calls out to another, you can be sure that the other will call back.