Rabbi Yosef Wineberg served as a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary for the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory, and the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory. Rabbi Wineberg undertook missions to South Africa, Brazil, and other countries, reaching out to Jews and inspiring identity and observance.

In the early 1950s, Rabbi Wineberg went for a private audience with the Rebbe prior to traveling to South Africa. At the audience, the Rebbe asked him: "Do you stop in any other countries on your way to South Africa?"

Rabbi Wineberg told him that the plane made occasional stops for refueling, but these were for brief intervals. To this the Rebbe replied: "Do you not stay in any place for a day or two?" Rabbi Wineberg answered him that this was not the plan. Toward the end of the audience, the Rebbe again asked Rabbi Wineberg if he was planning to stop in any other countries on the way.

Rabbi Wineberg had been working with the Rebbe long enough to appreciate that this was not ordinary curiosity. When he came home, he told his wife that although he was scheduled to arrive in South Africa on Wednesday, she should not be disappointed if a telegram does not arrive before Shabbat, for from the Rebbe's words, it appeared that he would be delayed for a day or two and would not necessarily have the opportunity of communicating before Shabbat began.

As Rabbi Wineberg prepared to board the plane, he noticed that one of his acquaintances, Rabbi Lenger (of Ganeles-Lenger wines) was also planning to board the flight. They both appreciated the advantage of having each other as company on the long journey.

One of the refueling stops for the journey to South Africa was Dakar, a small city on the West African coast. As they were preparing to deplane there, the crew announced that the stay would be prolonged slightly because they were experiencing certain technical difficulties.

They deplaned at 10 PM. As Rabbi Wineberg was sitting in the lobby, he noticed a young man looking at him intently. When Rabbi Wineberg took off his hat and revealed a skull-cap, kippah, the man approached him and introduced himself as Mr. Pinto, a Sephardic Jew from Egypt. He had been in Dakar for six months and hadn't seen a Jewish face. He missed the Jewish involvement which he had experienced at home, and he was worried about the effect living in such a Jewish wasteland would have on his children.

Rabbi Wineberg explained to him that he could maintain a stronger sense of Jewish identity by intensifying his Jewish observance. "Do you have tefillin here?" Rabbi Wineberg asked him, of the small black leather boxes containing scrolls of biblical passages that are wrapped on the arm and head of adult men during weekday morning prayers.

"Yes," Mr. Pinto answered. He did have tefillin, but unfortunately, he had fallen out of the habit of putting them on each day.

"When your children see you putting on tefillin daily," Rabbi Wineberg told him, "the concept of being Jewish will mean much more to them. They will have a tangible example of what being Jewish means."

Mr. Pinto promised to put on tefillin daily. He and Rabbi Wineberg talked for a few more minutes, and then Rabbi Wineberg was called back to his plane. Rabbi Wineberg felt that perhaps his conversation with Mr. Pinto was the reason for the delay and with that he would have fulfilled whatever intent the Rebbe had in mind when speaking about a stop on the way to South Africa.

Apparently, this was not the case. After a few hours of flying, the crew announced that they were experiencing engine trouble and would have to return to Dakar. After they deplaned, the passengers were informed that one of the plane's engines had burnt out and it would be two or three days before it could be replaced.

Rabbi Wineberg's companion, Mr. Lenger, was worried. It was already past midnight Wednesday morning. If the delay was more than two days, it would be questionable whether they would arrive before Shabbat. Rabbi Wineberg calmed him; the Rebbe had spoken to him about a delay for a day or two, no longer.

After being placed in a local hotel and resting for several hours, Rabbi Wineberg set out to look for Jews. That was not an easy task in Dakar, for there were few in the country. Many of the people had not even heard what a Jew was.

He was able, however, to locate a store whose owner was reputed to be Jewish. Rabbi Wineberg entered the store and asked for the owner. He was introduced to a young man named Clement. Was he the owner of the store?

No, he was the owner's nephew.

Was he Jewish?

Yes, he was.

Clement talked freely with Rabbi Wineberg. He came from Lebanon. He felt the financial opportunities open for him in Dakar were worth undertaking the difficulties of leaving home and a familiar environment. He and his uncle know of four other Jewish families.

Rabbi Wineberg spoke to him about Jewish involvement and practice. Clement acknowledged that he had been lax in this area.

"Do you have tefillin here?" Rabbi Wineberg asked.

Clement admitted that he had left his in Lebanon.

"Would you put on tefillin if I sent them to you?"

Clement promised that he would.

They talked for a while longer, and Rabbi Wineberg sensed a genuine warmth on Clement's part. "Today is also a day," he told him. "Come with me and put on tefillin now."

Clement agreed and went with Rabbi Wineberg to his hotel room. As they were returning to the store, they met Mr. Pinto, who expressed his surprise at seeing Rabbi Wineberg still in the city.

Rabbi Wineberg explained about the engine trouble his plane had experienced and then introduced Clement. "You had complained of being in Dakar for six months without meeting another Jew," he told Mr. Pinto. "I've been here less than a day, and I have been able to find one."

Rabbi Wineberg spent the majority of the next day with Clement, developing a relationship with him. Clement took him sightseeing and they talked freely. One subject bothered Rabbi Wineberg and as the connection between them grew, he felt free to broach the issue. "What about marriage?" he asked Clement. "What chance is there of you finding a Jewish girl here in Dakar?"

Clement had to admit that there was almost no opportunity. "Promise me that you will never marry out of the faith," Rabbi Wineberg told Clement. Clement made the promise, telling Rabbi Wineberg that the time they had spent together had made an indelible impression upon him.

Rabbi Wineberg's plane was fixed in time for him to arrive in South Africa before Shabbat. At his first opportunity, he wrote a letter to the Rebbe describing his experiences in Dakar. The Rebbe sent tefillin and prayer books for the community there.

Throughout the months that followed, Rabbi Wineberg maintained a connection with Clement and Mr. Pinto, sending them cards for the High Holidays and letters from time to time. Before Passover, the Rebbe instructed his personal secretary, Rabbi Hodakov, to send matzah, the special thin bread eaten on the holiday, to Dakar.

When the matzah arrived, Clement and Mr. Pinto decided to make a communal Passover feast, known as the Seder. At the Seder, they spoke emotionally of the Rebbe's commitment to Jews throughout the world, how sitting in New York, he senses the longing within the heart of a Jew in Africa to maintain contact with his Jewish roots. After Passover, they wrote the Rebbe a moving letter thanking him and describing the Seder.

The following summer, Rabbi Wineberg had an audience with the Rebbe before leaving on a mission to Brazil and South Africa. "You will be stopping in Dakar," the Rebbe said with a smile. "Why not spend a few days there even if the plane is in order? This time, you can notify the people before you come."

Rabbi Wineberg notified his friends in Dakar, and they arranged a get-together of the entire community.

There was only one unpleasant element of the trip; Rabbi Wineberg saw that Clement was still single. "Do you remember your promise?" Rabbi Wineberg reminded him. Clement answered affirmatively. He explained that he had traveled to France to look for a Jewish girl to marry, but had not met anyone. "But," he assured Rabbi Wineberg, "there is no reason to worry. I will never marry out of the faith."

Several months afterwards, Rabbi Wineberg received a wedding invitation in the mail from Clement (and a second invitation to forward to the Rebbe). Clement had gone back to Lebanon to look for a wife. He had found a Jewish girl whom he would be marrying and then they would return to Dakar. "When I received that letter," Rabbi Wineberg explained, "I felt that my mission in Dakar had been completed."