Ten years ago, my husband and I traveled to Singapore. Before the trip, as is my habit, I reached out to the local Chabad Center.

Traveling the world is one of my biggest joys. I strongly believe that we are sent exactly where we are needed to bring light to others. Transcending the physical distance is allegorical to the emotional, spiritual and cultural differences between people.

I often joke that my hobby is to visitWe are sent exactly where we are needed every Chabad center in the world. With thousands of centers in more than 100 countries and with a presence in every state in America, this might take a while. Yet any time there is an opportunity to travel the continents and meet these Chabad families who dedicate their lives to unconditionally embrace their fellow Jews is a highlight of my life.

Our Singapore trip ended with a beautiful Shabbat experience in the community shul.

Before Shabbat, I was instructed by the Chabad Rabbi, Rabbi Mordechai Abergel, to go up a flight of stairs to light the Friday-night candles. Standing next to the small table with prepared candles, I saw a young girl hiding in the shadows. She was about 16 with Asian features.

I smiled, but was a little surprised by her behavior. Then, just as I was about to light Shabbat candles, she came towards me and asked in a broken English if I was a “real Jew.” I wasn’t sure if this was a joke or a prank, but I replied, with all seriousness, that I was. I told her it was time to light Shabbat candles, and I proceeded to do that.

She stood next to me, observing and crying. I shifted between being uncomfortable, inspired and a little nervous by this behavior. She asked if she could hug me, considering that, after all, I was the “real thing.” And, of course, I agreed.

I invited her to come downstairs with me to participate in the Shabbat services, but she was too shy.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this strange experience. After the meal, I returned to the area with the candles, but she wasn’t there. I walked around the building, hoping to find her. I was so excited when I finally spotted her seated on the couch near the children’s playroom.

I sat down next to her. She shifted, clearly feeling timid. I said to her that I was visiting from Philadelphia, and that I was born in the former Soviet Union. I explained to her that I didn’t know much about “real” Jews until I was about her age.

I asked her to share her story, for in a way I felt like I was once that girl who watched women light Shabbat candles with awe, curiosity and envy. After a few minutes of chatting about my life, she opened up enough to tell me about her journey.

She was born in a small town in China. Her father was abusive, and so her mother left him. They lived in poverty and despair. Her mother had terrible depression and moments of darkness.

Once, a co-worker in school took notice of her mother and told her that he will help her heal by giving her a page from a sacred book, called Tehillim, the Psalms of David that someone sneaked into China. The story didn’t explain why the book was brought to this gentleman. Yet it was clear that he thought very highly of the author and its people. This woman knew a little English because she was a teacher, but nothing about the existence of Jews. Still, she was desperate for any remedy to overcome her inner darkness. She read the words on the page to herself over and over again, connecting to the light through these mystical poems.

After some time, the woman came up with anI was barely breathing idea that would infuse her life with hope. She told her young daughter that somewhere there lives a nation of people who bring the purest light and peace into the world. She made it clear that her daughter was going to find these people and live among them, regardless of the effort it took.

At this point of the story, I realized that I was barely breathing. I was frozen, listening intensely to her quiet voice. It was unimaginable that in China, a woman found her salvation through a page of Psalms. I felt overwhelmed with pride about my Jewish heritage. After all, we are the light unto the nations. Up until this moment, it was more of an allegorical concept for me, but now it has become as real and practical as can be.

The story took a new turn as this girl’s mother came up with a plan. She managed to discover that Jews pray in a synagogue, and the closest country that had one was Singapore.

This young girl’s mother sold everything she could in order to buy a one-way ticket to Singapore for her as a high school senior exchange student.

When the girl arrived, she went directly to the address of the synagogue that her mother had given her. This was the beginning of her magnificent journey.

The rabbi and his wife embraced her with respectful caution. Apparently, there are many people who are trying to find the “way in” to become Jewish for many unauthentic reasons. Despite their cautious approach, she was given a couch to sleep on, food and an opportunity to talk with Jewish visitors.

Time was passing quickly, and I had to return to my husband, who was probably very worried about my whereabouts.

I embraced her with the biggest hug I could offer, and she smiled. I was surprised because up until this moment, she was timid and serious. “Do you know what’s my biggest dream?” she asked. Without waiting for my answer, she continued, “To walk the streets of Jerusalem, wearing a long skirt, just as all real Jewish women.”

Now I became serious. This was one of the purest souls I have ever encountered. A teenager who wanted so little, yet such an almost impossible transformation, considering her life circumstances.

Years have gone by, but this incredible girl remains an inspiration in my life. These were the moments that we shared together, which changed me forever.

Being a rather proactive person, I ran to the apartment where Rabbi Abergel lived and asked to speak to him. He reassured me that he was aware of the girl’s desire to embrace Judaism. As customary, he was waiting to see if she was serious about her decision to embrace Judaism. It had been about four months since she had arrived from China, and the rabbi was getting more confident about her determination to embark on the journey to conversion.

The next day, I walked through the building again and again, but couldn’t find the young woman. I felt that meeting her brought clarity to my own life. According to our sages, we are reassured that G‑d helps us to achieve the impossible: “Open for Me an opening the size of the eye of a needle, and I will open for you an opening the size of a hall.”

I knew with absolute certainty that this spiritual, lofty teenager will find her way. I left behind a check, asking the rebbetzin to purchase skirts for my future Jewish sister. This was my little contribution to the dream of a Chinese-born girl in another part of the world, who I felt would share my heritage one day.

We are sent exactly where we are meant toI needed this encounter just as much as she did be. I knew that I needed this encounter just as much as she did. Soon after meeting her, I resolved to commit myself to dressing modestly, wearing skirts. I now wear them proudly.

I am not going to leave you wondering what happened at the end of this incredible journey. After all, some stories do have happy endings.

A few months later, I sent an email to Rabbi Abergel asking about her progress. He replied that he had arranged for her to see the head of the rabbinical court from Sydney, Australia, who was brought down to Singapore for the express purpose of facilitating her and other’s conversion process. This would eventually mean that she will be sent to Israel to study. Reading these words, I burst into tears. There is something so transcendent about impossible dreams becoming a reality.

Sometimes, before I fall asleep, I imagine this timid Chinese-born Jewish woman walking the streets of Jerusalem. In my dream, she is holding hands with her skirt-wearing daughters, while her kippah-wearing husband is talking to her in a soft, kind voice. Her warrior of a mother is walking right next to them. She is holding a complete book of Psalms.

This visionary mother was right, after all, that somewhere in this world lives a nation that knows G‑d, is connected to the truth, and sings the Psalms of the greatest poet, King David.

Every Jew is part of this legacy. Connect your voice to the melody of eternal music and sing along.

Editor's Note: After this story was published, the author was put in touch with the protagonist of this story. Read her amazing story here.