By COLlive reporter
R’ Yosef Eliyahu Dunin, a Lubavitcher chossid in Jerusalem who manned the Tefillin booth at the Kotel for 17 years, passed away on Thursday, Iyar 4 5775.
He was 55.
Sunshine or rain, and on the occasional snow days, the red-bearded Dunin would be at Chabad’s stand welcoming visitors of all backgrounds and interests to the Western Wall, the Kfar Chabad magazine reported.
With sincerity and charm, he was able to put on Tefillin on an estimated tens of thousands of Jewish men and boys above the age of 13. When fellow activists weren’t able to convince a visitor to do a Mitzvah, they would call for him.
One story is told of an Italian priest who came to the Kotel with his community and mentioned in passing that his mother was Jewish. Dunin took him to the side to explain about his Jewish ancestry and the opportunity he has to make a Bar Mitzvah.
“The priest agreed and left the group to do so,” Rabbi Naftali Rot, director of Tzeiri Chabad in Jerusalem, tells. “The priest departed with tears in his eyes and returned a few months later wearing a Yarmulka and holding a Tallis and Tefillin bag. He came to Israel wanting to live fully as a Jew.”
In his youth, Dunin was a member of the household of the great Sephardic rabbi and kabbalist, Rabbi Israel Abuhaṣeira, known as the Baba Sali, of blessed memory. Dunin merited to bring him a bottle of ‘mashke’ from the Rebbe and on the Baba Sali’s instruction, organized a Lag BaOmer parade in Netivot.
In recent years, Dunin lived in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood in Jerusalem where he often assisted the local Chabad center. “On Fridays he would go to bakeries and groceries and collect their oversupply for families in need,” Shliach Rabbi Ariel Pozilov said.
He is survived by his wife and 7 children.
Baruch dayan haemes.
A full profile about his personality and unique dedication to helping others appears in this week’s Kfar Chabad magazine