WASHINGTON, D.C.—Throughout the March for Israel rally in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, countless Jewish men among the 290,000 participants took the opportunity to put on tefillin. For some, it was the first time they had ever done the mitzvah. For others, it was the first time they had done so in many, many years. For Ilia Chikaidze of Kfar Saba, Israel, it was also an unexpected opportunity to recite Kaddish for the first time for his father, who had passed away in Israel just a few days earlier.

A native of Israel who was still in a state of shock and mourning not just from his father’s passing, but from having lost several close friends in the terror attacks on Oct. 7, Chikaidze went to the rally with a group of friends because he felt it was important to show his support for his family and friends back home. “I’m trying to do what I can from here,” he told Chabad.org. “That’s our duty, to let people know what really happened, to have everyone know the truth.”

As he and his friends made their way across the National Mall, they were approached by Rabbi Moshe Pinson—a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi from the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y.—who asked the men if they wanted to put on tefillin. Pinson had been helping attendees do so throughout the day.

While one of his friends quickly said yes to the rabbi, Chikaidze declined. But at the urging of his friends, the young Israeli decided to do so.

Just as he was about to wrap tefillin, one of his friends turned to Pinson and said that Chikaidze’s father, who had been ill for some time, had just passed away.

The rabbi turned to the young man and said, “I’m going to get together a minyan so you can say Kaddish, and we can all be menachem avel,” doing the mitzvah of comforting the mourner.

With a small group of people gathered around him—and now wearing tefillin and a kippahChikaidze began to weep while reciting the words of Kaddish.

“He was shaking like a leaf,” said Pinson.

“Everybody was crying. It was very emotional,” said the rabbi. “This was a very special moment for everyone who was helping a Jew say Kaddish for his father.”