Shliach Rabbi Bentzion Butman got a royal welcome earlier this month when Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni invited the director of the Chabad-Lubavitch center in Phnom Penh to a ceremony in celebration of the Asian country’s version of Arbor Day.
Held this year at the Siem Reap farm of Butman’s friend, Israeli expatriate Kobi Simon, the ceremony saw the king plant a tree before embarking on a tour of Simon’s greenhouses with the rabbi. Speaking on behalf of the Jewish community, Butman blessed the king, his family and kingdom, and thanked Sihamoni for Cambodia’s hospitality to the transient Israeli backpackers, Jewish tourists and industrialists who have called the country home at one point or another.
During their walk, the king presented Butman with a silver jewelry box.
“He has a very gentle, caring, and tolerant personality towards his people,” said Butman, who opened the Chabad House he directs with his wife Mashie in 5770. “I sensed an intellectual person full of feeling. I hope that this is a beginning of a good relationship between the Chabad House and the monarchy.”