After eating lunch at the Chabad-operated kosher restaurant, Shelanu, we decided to set up our Judaism stand for a second round. It had been a good day: we already had helped eighteen men put on tefillin, including four first-timers. We stood outside the Maharal’s synagogue for another forty-five minutes. However, the crowd had thoroughly thinned, and there were no longer any tourists.

We decided to split up: Leibel was heading back to the Chabad House to learn, and I agreed to put away stand and supplies at the restaurant. I only asked that he leave with me his tefillin, just in case . . .

It was nearing 6 o’clock as I headed back. For reasons unknown to me at the time, I decided to take an unusual route.

On my way, I met a fellow named Ari who was in Prague just for the day, on his way home to Berlin. He asked me about the gravesite of the Maharal. They actually charge for entry. I told him that, as a Jew who wants to pray at the gravesite of a tzaddik (righteous man), it was unnecessary to pay, but he would have to go to the Jewish Community Center in order to receive a free admission pass. He didn’t know where the building was, and I told him it was actually closed for the night, and he would have to come back tomorrow. He replied that he was leaving Prague within the next hour. We were stumped. Just then an Israeli couple I had met earlier at our stand approached me to say hello and see how everything was. We explained the situation. The man smiled widely as he reached into his fanny pack and pulled out a ticket! He said he was leaving in the morning and had no further use for the ticket, as he handed it over to Ari.

It was now very close to the closing time of the cemetery, and Ari would have to hurry if he wished to have enough time to say Tehillim (Psalms) there. Ari thanked my friend earnestly as he took off towards the entrance of the graveyard, grinning from ear to ear.

After exchanging a few parting words with Yair (the man from Israel), I gave him some money to give to charity in Israel, thus making him an agent of goodness.

I continued on my way back to Chabad. Less than two doors from the Chabad center, I saw someone wearing athletic gear and a backpack walking opposite me. I felt it appropriate, and I asked him, “Excuse me, are you Jewish?” Surprised, he replied, “Yes, I am. Good eye you have.”

After learning his Jewish name—Zev Wolf, it was—I asked him what he was doing in Prague. He told me he is a professional track runner, sponsored by and working for Nike. Nike had sent him and his colleagues to Prague for a meeting, and they were all headed to Sweden the next day for an international competition. I showed him the tefillin I had in my hand, and told him that this was the best way to receive blessings for success. Intrigued, he told me he had never heard of tefillin before, but he was quite interested to hear more now. I showed him toward the Chabad House, which was within arm’s reach, and we walked inside together.

He grew up in a town in Oregon where there were only two other Jews. We started to talk about tefillin, the unity of G‑d, and the G‑dliness that is hidden in this world. Zev was amazed. He told me that he heard of similar concepts, but had always associated them with Eastern philosophies. He was pleasantly surprised to find out that these concepts have their roots in Judaism!

After we put on the tefillin and said Shema together, we exchanged information as I walked him out of the Chabad House and down the block.