The Tefillin stand on Jaffa St. in Yerushalayim has become somewhat of a local landmark. Under the auspices of Shliach to Central Jerusalem, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Slonim, the stand greets thousands of passersby, offering them an opportunity to do a mitzvah, exuding a strong feeling of Ahavas Yisroel.
Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Koenig, son in law of Rabbi Slonim, manned the Tefillin stand on Sunday like he does most days. He lays Tefillin on dozens of Jews, sharing personal moments with each of them, hearing many of their stories, yet that day he encountered a story which was quite out of the ordinary, to say the least.
“Ilan came to the stand,” says Rabbi Koenig, “I offered him to put on, and he refused at first, claiming that he laid Tefillin already earlier in the day.
“Then in passing he said that his grandfather, Gavriel Ahonov, built the grave marker for the Rebbe’s father, R’ Levik.
“After telling over his family connection to the Rebbe”, said Rabbi Koenig, “things became more relaxed, and Ilan ended up putting on Tefillin and even acquiescing to having a picture taken.”
Afterwards Rabbi Koenig learned of another interesting fact about his Tefillin customer. He is none other than Ilan Baruch, a well known artist, considered one of the greatest painters in Eretz Yisroel.