Being born and raised a Jew in a very liberal Reform temple in Southern California is a tremendously different experience than being raised as a Hassidic Jew in New York City.

Currently, I am semi-retired. I work seven days a week as a small business owner in a tiny little Montana town. The county in which I reside is over 5,500 square miles in size, with a human population of about 9,000. Considering that the Bronx is 42 square miles (less than one percent the size), and houses over 150 times as many people, my town and county are very remote indeed.

Imagine my surprise, one sunny, busy summer afternoon, to see two Hassidic young men come into our little place of business. My wife and I had been in Montana for only a few short months. How did they find us? And, more importantly, why did they make the three-hour round trip to visit us?

How did they find us?

The men explained that they were young rabbis representing the Chabad-Lubavitch center in Bozeman, Montana, and after an enjoyable round of Jewish geography, the talk got serious. They felt I needed a community of like-minded people, and they wanted to assure me that despite my remote location, there was a synagogue and a rabbi for me.

Why do I need a rabbi? I wondered. Yes, I was bar mitzvahed, and I even taught some Hebrew school during my first year of college, but I am now well beyond the need for a traditional Jewish community or a rabbi. My children are all grown; no need for any Hebrew or religious school.

Despite my hesitations, my visitors and I genuinely enjoyed our time together, and after that first visit I began a bit of an e‑mail relationship with the rabbi who runs the center in Bozeman. Eventually, we met in person. That year he was hosting a Chanukah party in our little town, and came by to meet us just prior to the celebration. I found that, after all these years, I truly appreciated being called by my Hebrew name and hearing Yiddish words. Since then I have had the opportunity to visit the synagogue in Bozeman, and have met the rabbi again at various events.

My children are all grown; no need for any Hebrew or religious school.

When I first began receiving the rabbi’s weekly e‑mail on the Torah portion, I was ambivalent. On the one hand, I am not an observant Jew, to say the least. On the other hand, the e‑mails were coming from a learned man, and I felt I should read them. But when I noticed that he ended each e‑mail with a prayer for our armed forces, here, in Israel, or wherever they may be, I started to warm up.

At the most recent Chanukah celebration, the rabbi shared a thought that has stuck with me. It was a simple insight about the power of light. He explained that in a completely dark room, even a single candle creates significant illumination. We all share a responsibility, as members of the human race, to be the brightest candles possible in our surroundings, he said. Regardless of race, creed or religion, we all are interconnected and responsible for each other.

As we age, our needs and wants change . . .

Increasingly, I found myself depending on the rabbi as a source of wisdom. On one occasion, I wondered about the historical meaning of a particular event. At the next opportunity, I asked the rabbi. Shortly thereafter, I faced an ethical business dilemma. This time I did not wait. I called the rabbi immediately. In a few sentences, he clarified the main issues and set me on the proper path. These days, I often find myself thinking, I wonder what the rabbi would say about that . . .

Only recently it hit me. Although at the moment I still do not feel the need for a spiritual leader, I do need a rabbi.

Do I need a rabbi? No! I have a rabbi. Rabbi Chaim Bruk of Chabad-Lubavitch of Montana is my rabbi.

So, in the end, this Montana-transplanted middle-aged Reform Jew has indeed learned anew. I have learned that as we age, our needs and wants change. I am terribly grateful that my rabbi made his journey from the Big Apple to Montana, and that he had the wherewithal to seek me out with patience and wisdom.

Thank you, Rabbi.