An exciting new video series will explore a little-known chapter of Soviet Jewish history: The Chassidic underground in Samarkand, deep in the heart of Soviet Asia.

The series documents the life of Chabad Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman. Born in 1939 in Kharkov, Ukraine, he fled with his family from the Nazi invasion when he was just a toddler, heading east to Uzbekistan.

There, at the fringe of the Soviet Empire, the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic community established synagogues and yeshivahs, and held brit milahs, bar mitzvahs and weddings. In 1946, a majority of this underground community escaped to the West, but the Zaltzmans and a group of other brave souls remained until 1971, serving as a bulwark in the battle to keep Judaism alive in the face of Soviet oppression.

He and his cohorts lived double lives, appearing to be model Soviet citizens, all the while immersing themselves and their children in a rich Jewish universe few knew existed.

Zaltzman’s story has received wide acclaim since his memoir, Samarkand, was published last year in Hebrew, English and Russian.

After he was was honored this spring in the U.S. Senate, sat down to document Zaltzman’s story in a 23-part video series called Inside the Samarkand Jewish Underground: Short stories of Jewish courage amidst constant threat in Communist Soviet Union.

Episodes can be viewed online for immediate binge-watching on’s video site,, or weekly on’s Facebook page.