Someone tried to get him to put on tefillin but he refused. He asked me to try. I waited a few minutes and then walked over to him.
"Where're you from?"
I find it relaxes the conversation when I start with a friendly opener.
To be honest with you, I get uncomfortable just hearing the word.
"Berlin? Then you're not Jewish are you?"
"Yeah, I am."
"But, is your mother Jewish?"
"What in the world are you doing in Berlin?"
"Come put on tefillin. I'll help you."
"You're living in Berlin and you came to the Kotel and you refuse to put on tefillin? What are you nuts? You better do it to protect yourself!"
"Okay, come on."
He walked over with me and I helped him to put on tefillin, to pray for his loved ones, and for the Jews in danger.
Over and over again, I find the private prayer after saying the Shema has the strongest effect on them. It brings their hearts into the mitzvah. The physical mitzvah gives them credit in Heaven, but they usually do not feel much more than having fulfilled an obligation if that is all they do. But when their hearts get involved they become more aware of Hashem's Presence and want to do the mitzvah again next time.
I warned him sternly to marry only a Jewish girl. He agreed, but I am so concerned when Jews assimilate so much that they do not want to do a mitzvah when they come to the Kotel.
Again, when you go out to help someone to put on tefillin (or to do any other mitzvah), we are not allowed to push…it turns them off,… but we are allowed to pull…it brings them in.