As we were finishing up a conversation with some tourists from Spain, I suddenly glanced over at our table with tefillin and Jewish literature, to find a whole family of four looking curiously at our setup and speaking Russian. I walked over, and with the few Russian words I know, greeted them and found out they were visiting from Russia.

The mother of the family was really the only one who could communicate well in English. She said to me, “your table caught my eye because I remember this man.”

She was pointing to a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (on a Twelve Torah Passages card we had on display). She then continued:

“I saw the Rebbe many years ago, back when he was giving out dollar bills in New York. He gave me one dollar for a much-needed blessing, and then, thank G‑d, not too long after, my son was born. Then I went back a year later, got another dollar from him, and my daughter was born.”

The lady was almost in tears. She had such a warm smile on her face as she introduced me to her two children and her husband.

Finally, she asks me, “Please, you can help me? My son, he has never put on tefillin before. Can you help him put it on for the first time?”

I helped the young man put on tefillin, and the whole family got to share in the joy. The young man said the Shema prayer with such excitement, realizing his connection to his Jewish roots.

It’s such an amazing thing. To be in the old Jewish shtetl in Prague, where tens of thousands of Jews long ago fought for their Judaism with self-sacrifice. And, after the many hardships the Jews of Eastern Europe experienced, we find a young man from Russia, on his family vacation to the Czech Republic, reconnecting to his Jewish soul, and leaving a lasting impression on me, his family, and the old city as a whole.