It was 1967, right after the Six-Day War. I had just come home to Cleveland, Ohio, from the Chabad women’s convention, to find that the electricity was out. My husband told me that a new neighbor who was an electrician had moved in across the street, and I decided to ask for his help.

The new neighbor was outside, cutting his grass. I said, “It’s so nice to see new people on our street . . . My husband tells me you’re an electrician; maybe you could help me?” He said he would. Before he came into our house, he asked me for a yarmulke. So I said, “It’s nice to have a neighbor who wants to wear a yarmulke.”

He said, “I don’t. I’m not religious. But when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

We continued to chat, and I asked him if he had heard what happened in Israel. He said, “Yes, I would do anything for Israel.”

“There is something you could do, and it’s not a lot,” I said. I told him what the Rebbe said—before the war started—about how Jews should put on tefillin, because this will help neutralize the enemy. I also told him that Chabad women were distributing tefillin for $18 a pair.

His response to me was: “I served in the Israeli army, and I would do anything for Israel, but not this—not tefillin.”

A short while later, my daughter Henya arrived with her little girl, and I encouraged her to go across the street to talk to him. When he saw her, he remarked, “You have such a beautiful child!” When Henya asked if he had any children, his only answer was: “Go talk to my wife.”

Henya went inside and spoke to his wife, who told her the whole sad story. This man had been married before, but his first wife died in childbirth along with the baby. He was very heartbroken, but four years later he remarried. Since then they had tried to have children, but although she became pregnant three or four times, each pregnancy ended in miscarriage. They lost hope of having children of their own, and were planning to adopt.

Henya said to the wife, “We have a Rebbe in New York—why don’t you write to him for a blessing?”

“No, no, no.” The wife would have none of it. But Henya persisted, and finally she told Henya to talk to her husband. Surprisingly, he was receptive. “If it will help, why not?”

So, Henya wrote a letter to the Rebbe on their behalf. The Rebbe responded: “You wrote to me about the doctors, that they say it’s impossible to have a child because of a medical problem . . . Jews are higher than nature. Report good news in a special time.”

When we got that letter, I said to him, Mazel Tov! Mazel Tov!”

“Are you normal?!” he asked me incredulously.

I said, “Don’t you believe?”

He said, “I believe, but not like you.”

“That’s already enough. If you believe, you will have a child.”

About three months passed by, and she became pregnant—and this time it was a successful pregnancy. They had a baby girl.

A few days after the birth, he came to our house with a beautiful pair of tefillin, and he asked my husband how to put it on. Then he ordered tefillin for his relatives—his brother-in-law, his father-in-law—and all of his friends.

Later he said to me, “This is the Rebbe’s child. When she will be a year old, I’ll take her to the Rebbe.”

Meanwhile, Passover was coming, and my children were going to spend the holiday with us. We couldn’t fit all the children and grandchildren into our house, and the man invited them to stay at his house. I thanked him, but explained, “They need a kosher house.” So, he and his wife decided to make their house kosher for Passover; but after Passover was finished, they did not take on any other mitzvot.

After a year, he and his wife went to New York, together with the baby, for a private audience with the Rebbe. The Rebbe tried to persuade them to keep Shabbat, kosher, and the laws of family purity. But they would not be persuaded.

So, finally the Rebbe said, “If you at least keep the laws of family purity, then I promise you that your little girl will have brothers and sisters.”

To this they agreed. After a little while, the wife became pregnant again, and this time she had a boy. Following this, she got another blessing from the Rebbe, and she had twins.

In a way, what he said about the first baby—that it was the Rebbe’s child—must have been true for all of them, because today all of their children and grandchildren are Lubavitcher chassidim.