The two “chanced” to meet.

She was eighteen, returning to Upstate, NY, from a Birthright trip. The visit to our holy land had sparked her interest in Judaism.

Sitting next to her on the plane was Sara Shemtov, the Rebbe’s shluchah in Riverdale, NY. Sara was also returning from Israel where she had attended the wedding celebration of a beloved member of her community.

Back home, Sara would be juggling her precious role as a mother along with her many responsibilities as a shluchah. But for the long duration of the flight, she thought, she would read uninterrupted. Sara had recently purchased my book, Tending the Garden, about the unique gifts of the Jewish woman and was eager to start it.

But, as the plane flew over the waters of the Atlantic, Sara found herself engrossed in deep conversation with her new companion. The book remained closed as Sara opened a heart.

If you ask Sara what she spoke about, she’ll tell you she doesn’t remember. She spoke from the heart, reaching out and penetrating the heart of another Jew.

As their twelve hour flight was nearing its destination, with my book still closed on her lap, Sara decided it would be a meaningful parting gift. Inscribing the book, and wishing her well on her continuing journey, Sara and her companion parted ways.

Six years later.

It is Rosh Hashanah. Sara is greeting the many new and old faces in her shul. Among them is a young woman who came to visit the man she had been dating, a medical student from Detroit, now studying in New York.

Something about the young woman looks very familiar to Sara, just as something about Sara looks so familiar to the newcomer. But the connection eludes them both.

Only when the guest returns home, does her memory jar. A flight. Years ago. From Israel. A book. Opening my book, her guess is confirmed as she stares down at Sara’s signature gracing the first page.

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to Sara’s community. The program was in the beautiful home of a beloved member of her community—the very same woman for whom Sara had travelled to Israel.

And in the crowd, approaching me after my lecture was the woman who had been gifted my book on that auspicious flight more than six years ago. She and her husband now live in Riverdale, NY where he is completing his medical residency and where they can benefit from the programs of Chabad of Riverdale.

Our paths are guided from Above. Yet in each of our encounters, we are given the opportunity to help ignite a spark of another soul.

“Your book is now in Massachusetts, lent to a friend,” the young woman tells me as she and Sara conclude their incredible story.

Who knows what new story is in the making….