When he walked up to the tefillin stand I did not ask him if his mother was Jewish. I assumed from his appearance that she wasn't. He was huge and was literally covered with colorful tattoos! Both his arms were completely covered, he had gigantic colored tattoos on the back and sides of his neck…. Wherever I looked he was tattooed!
I asked him what he was doing in Israel. He said that he was a krav maga teacher. Krav maga is an effective Israeli self-defense system and many non-Jews come to Israel to learn it.
He was with an Israeli who told me that the guy was Jewish. I asked him if he was Jewish. He said of course he was.
"Is your mother Jewish?"
"Both my mother and my father are Jewish."
I put tefillin on him and was surprised that he knew the blessing. I had him say the appropriate prayers and then go stand by the Kotel and talk to G-d in his heart.
While he was away the Israeli, who turned out to be his cousin, told us his story. His parents are Israelis who left Israel and moved to Germany! That alone is shocking. They left, or never had any Jewish beliefs and became x-ians! He was raised in Germany in a x-ian home.
Then later, after doing all his nutty things, he rejected the x-ian beliefs and began learning Torah.
After we took off the tefillin I gave him a couple of ideas that show how foolish x-ianity is to give him some more support in his leaving that idolatry. He seemed to have already known them.
It is hard to picture a Jew beginning further away than he was and still he has come to a Torah life. How close we must be to the end!Hashem is calling to all the Jews all over the world; "If you your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there Hashem your G-d will gather you in…".[i] Redemption is happening. If you want a better seat you better come now."
[i] Deuteronomy 30:4