It was a strange sight to say the least. The congregation was already deep into the Shabbat morning services when a little boy, dressed with a kippah and Shabbat clothing, ran into the synagogue, looked around with confusion, and ran out again.

When the boy returned the following Shabbat morning, II asked if he needed help approached him and asked if he needed help. But he just looked at me shyly and didn’t say a word.

The third Shabbat, the scene repeated itself yet again. Each time, he ran out silently, never explaining why he had come and what he needed.

Then, one Sunday, I was walking down Main Street, the main thoroughfare in our Jewish neighborhood in Queens, N.Y., when I saw the little boy walking towards me.

Oddly enough, he held the hand of a man who didn’t seem to be a religious Jew. Bareheaded with a scruffy tee-shirt, he didn’t look like the father of a little boy with a kippah and peyot. To make matters more confusing, the man’s other hand was held by a little girl, whom I knew to be in my daughter’s Jewish day school class.

After I described the trio to my wife, she explained that the children’s mother had rediscovered Judaism in adulthood and was trying desperately to introduce Jewish practice into the family’s life. Her husband, however, was uninterested in anything religious.

I then understood why the boy had come to synagogue each morning and then run out. His mother must have sent him to attend services, but with no father to sit with, he didn’t feel comfortable taking a seat in the men’s section.

After I found out where the family lived, I knocked on their door and introduced myself to the woman as the father of her daughter’s classmate. “I noticed that your son has no one to sit with in synagogue,” I continued. “I have four sons who all sit with me. From now on, your son will sit with us.”

And so it was. Every Friday night and Shabbat morning, the little boy joined me and my sons in synagogue.

After a few weeks, the little boy transferred to Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway, where my sons attended. In time, our families became close, and they often joined us (without the father) for Shabbat meals.

After several months, I spoke to Rabbi Yaakov Bender, the school’s legendary principal.

“Do you know what you did?” he asked me full of excitement. “You saved an entire family!”

He explained. “The mother has been struggling mightily to live a full Jewish life and teach her children to enjoy the beauty of Judaism, but it was very, very hard for her without her husband’s cooperation.

“Every Friday night, she would set the table and try to get the kids to join her for the Shabbat meal, while her husband watched TV at the other end of the room. You can just imagine where they preferred to be.

“One Sunday, she sat down at the table and had aYou can imagine where they preferred to be heart-to-heart talk with G‑d. ‘I am doing this for You,’ she said to Him, ‘and I need you to help me.’ She told Him how she was especially worried about her son, who was becoming friends with the ‘wrong crowd’ and sorely needed a father figure whom he could look up to and emulate. She then went on to tell Him that if He would not show her that He cared about her struggle, she would give up. It was just too difficult.

“No sooner did she finish her prayer, then you knocked on the door offering to help,” he concluded.

Years passed. The children continued their Jewish education, and are all living healthy, full Jewish lives. And the father? After his father passed away in 2001, he began saying Kaddish every day. Since then he has worn a kippah and adopted Jewish practice, filling the role of a pious and loving Jewish father and grandfather.

Reflecting on this amazing chain of events, I realize that it had little to do with me. I didn’t do any clever convincing or grand orchestrating. I was lucky enough to be G‑d’s tool, all because I saw something and did something.

Thank G‑d I did.