By COLlive reporter
R’ Zalmy Cohen of Crown Heights was one of the many Lubavitchers who were walking around the March For Israel rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC on Tuesday and offering Jews to put on Tefillin.
“There were thousands of people,” described Cohen. “We were standing there trying to get as many as possible, but it was impossible to get everyone. You hope that if you miss someone, hopefully the next guy will catch him.”
As Cohen stood there, he saw a young man walk by, who he could tell was really heartbroken about something. “I could tell on his face he was sad, but I decided to try,” he said.
Telling him that it will only take one minute to put on Tefillin, the man refused. Cohen asked him where he is from, and the man said he is from Israel.
The conversation then switched to Hebrew, and the young man commented that he had lost his father just 2 days ago and that we wasn’tlt able to attend the funeral or sit Shiva with his family.
“I didn’t ask him what happened, but I could see he was very distraught and upset about missing his father’s levaya,” Cohen said.
“I just gave him a hug and told him, ‘You have the opportunity right now to not only put on Tefillin in the merit of the Jews of Israel, but you can also say Kaddish for your father’s neshama.'”
Hearing that, the young man agreed to put on Tefillin. Rabbi Moshe Pinson of Bais Shmuel Chabad Cong. in Crown Heights helped the man with putting on Tefillin and saying the Shema.
As they were doing so, Cohen was resourceful in taking gathering a minyan together so the young man could say Kaddish for the first time.
“I saw a group of 20 boys and told them to use their hoodies for yarmulkas. Some already had caps on, and I said to them, ‘You can be the Minyan and help us give this man the opportunity to Daven and say Kaddish for the first time, for his father,” he recounts.
The young man proceeded to say Kaddish, tearing up as he was reciting it. “It was so heartbreaking to see,” Cohen commented. “He finished Kaddish and I realized, we could be Menachem Avel him as well.
“So one by one, the boys were Menachem Avel and gave their condolences to the man. One by one, each one reached out and gave him a hug, a squeeze, a handshake, a kind word. He was so moved, he was just crying, and it was so emotional.”