Contact Us

1923: Soviet Jewry
 Email
 
A group of underground teachers in Russia. The photo was smuggled out of Russia to be sent to the Rebbe
A group of underground teachers in Russia. The photo was smuggled out of Russia to be sent to the Rebbe

In 1923, the Rebbe met Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, who then served as "Rebbe" (teacher and leader) of the world wide Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

Six years earlier, the Communist Party had wrested control of the Russian Empire, and the Party's Yevsekzia ("Jewish Section") embarked on a ruthless war against Judaism. Schools, synagogues and religious institutions were shut down. Religious leaders were imprisoned, and many were summarily shot in the underground execution chambers of the Secret Police.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak led the struggle to keep Judaism alive in Soviet Russia, dispatching his emissaries to the length and breadth of the land to establish underground schools, mikvahs, and supply lines of financial aid and kosher food. The Rebbe joined him in the highly secret and highly dangerous work. In 1926, the Rebbe became engaged to marry Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak's second daughter, Chaya Mushka.

When, in the summer of 1927, agents of the Yevsekzia paid a midnight visit to Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak's Leningrad apartment to arrest him, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka signaled the fact to the Rebbe from a window, so that the Rebbe could destroy the "evidence", warn all those involved, and set in motion the international effort that would commute the death sentence placed on Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak and obtain his release.

The Rebbe was one of the select circle of family members allowed to leave the country with Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak in 1927. The network of teachers and activists remained in place, and Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak continued to direct its activities from the other side of the Iron Curtain until his passing in 1950, when the Rebbe, whose own involvement never abated, assumed the leadership of Chabad.

 
A Chabad emissary brings Judaism to a community at an underground Jewish gathering in communist Russia
A Chabad emissary brings Judaism to a community at an underground Jewish gathering in communist Russia

In the darkest years of anti-religious persecution, the Rebbe maintained contact with the Jews of the Soviet Union through many secret channels, even sending emissaries in the guise of tourists and business travelers. With the collapse of Communism in the beginning of this decade, the Rebbe's network simply moved aboveground, to continue to provide material and spiritual aid to Russian Jewry in light of day.

Today, there are Chabad-Lubavich emissaries in the former Soviet Union, laboring in 84 cities help Russia's Jews to reclaim their heritage.

Whenever he spoke about the suffering of Soviet Jewry and the tremendous sacrifices they made to cling to their faith, the Rebbe would be overcome by emotion. Whatever we do for them, he would often say, is but an infinitesimal part of what they give to us with their valiant commitment to our shared destiny.

RELATED ARTICLES

Adaptations of the Rebbe's Teachings:
 Jewish Unity
 A Gathering with the Rebbe

Appreciations:
 I Have Come to My Garden

Biography:
 Hope in Katmandu
 Consolation After the Sacrifice

Books by the Rebbe:
 At One With G-d; At One With Our Fellow Man

Correspondence From the Rebbe:
 A Breath of Fresh Air
 Jewish Unity
 Out of Many, One
 Freedom for One and All

News Updates: The Rebbe’s Reach Continues:
 Historic Wedding Pairs Dissidents’ Descendants

Scholar, Visionary and Leader:
 Soviet Jewry: Quiet Diplomacy, Covert Activity
 The Rebbetzin: A Private Life of Public Service

Special Dates on the Calendar:
 An Overview of Basi LeGani
 What Is Chabad?

Stories:
 The Blow

The Rebbe & World Leaders:
 A Mystical Covenant

The Rebbe's Family:
 Biography of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak
 Memoirs of Rebbetzin Chana - Part 1
 Never Give Up!
 "In a Place Devoid of Men, Strive to Be a Man"
 Giving of Oneself
 Never Give Up!
 "In a Place Devoid of Men, Strive to Be a Man"
 The Tzaddik’s Eternal Influence
 Giving of Oneself
 Historic Wedding Pairs Dissidents’ Descendants
 The Rebbetzin: A Private Life of Public Service
 The Exiled Rabbi and the Executed Poet: A Soviet Jewish Story

TheRebbe.org Video:
 A Message of Hope for Russian Jewry
 Never Give Up!
 A Month that Lasts a Year
 Refusenik’s Visit
 The Tzaddik’s Eternal Influence
 Consolation After the Sacrifice
 The Meaning of Freedom - Part 1
 Caring for Soviet Jewry
 The Responsibility of Freedom
 Not Alone
 Leningrad On the Line
 "In a Place Devoid of Men, Strive to Be a Man"
 One Day, One People
 Think of Me, and I’ll Think of You
 Giving of Oneself
 Message from Behind the Iron Curtain
 News from the Inside
 A Covert Operation
 The Previous Rebbe's Dangerous Speech in Moscow, 1927
 The Rebbe’s Response on Sepharadim and Ashkenazim
 Permission Granted
 Secret Mission
 Giving of Oneself
 Soviet Exodus Part I
 Soviet Exodus Part II
 A Message of Hope for Russian Jewry
 The Meaning of Sacrifice - Part 1
 A Jew in Secret
 Opening the Doors to the Soviet Union
 The Meaning of Sacrifice - Part 2
 Emulating Abraham
 The Work Must Go On
 Focus on the Individual
 A Leading Example
 Refusenik’s Visit
 A Wish Granted
 The Rebbe’s Care

VIDEO
Video:
Play Video

Let us all say the Lechaim! for those who are "there" [i.e., in Soviet Russia] and bless them that they should be given the opportunity to study Torah and observe the mitzvot, and should cease to suffer at the hands of their evil persecutors. The Jewish people constitute a single body. The same blood flows in all its limbs; an infusion of vitality in one limb strengthens the entire body. When we, here, strengthen our commitment to Judaism, we strengthen them. They, in turn, with their self-sacrifice for Judaism, strengthen us. They do more for us than we do for them...

From the Rebbe's talks, Summer 1964 (free translation)

The Rebbe: Timeline Biography
1902: Childhood
1915: Learning
1916: World War I
1923: Soviet Jewry
1928: Marriage
1930s: Torah & Science
1941: Flight from Europe
1939-45: Holocaust & Rebuilding
1943: Author & Teacher
1950: Leadership
1953: Chassidic Feminism
1960: Technology
1963: Rebellion
1967: The Six-Day War
1972: Retirement?
1974: The Mitzvah Tank
1977: Illness & Challenge
1983: Mankind
1986: "Sunday Dollars"
1988: Passing of Rebbetzin
1989: The End of the Cold War
1991: Missiles & Miracles
3 Tammuz 1994: Transmission
1994: Discovery of the "Reshimot"
Today: The Goal