The service concluded at about 12:30 p.m. I was informed that the “farbrengen” would start in an hour at 1:30. Mendel and I rushed home to make kiddush and have a bite and we hurriedly returned to 770 in good time.

The farbrengen took place in the Sukkah, a temporary building that was between 770 and the apartment building next door. There were more than 300 people present. The Rebbe sat in a lonely state at a table, positioned upon a dais at the far end of this Sukkah. A number of specially chosen rabbonim sat in a semi-circle around the Rebbe, not touching but surrounding the Rebbe. Everyone stood or sat at the few tables that were located in the center of the building. I was fortunate to find a seat at a table opposite and facing the Rebbe.

Wines, cake and strong drink - Benedictine and vodka - were very popular and were distributed amongst the assembly. This enabled all those present to wish the Rebbe, “L‘chaim.” The Rebbe replied to everyone‘s wishes, “L‘chaim v‘livrocho.” The Rebbe would also turn his head from time to time to face all those around the room, in order to catch everyone‘s eye, so that no one would be missed and all would receive a blessing from the Rebbe.

Quite a lot of drink was donated for the assembly. The bottles were placed before the Rebbe on the table. The names of the donors and their special reasons, if any, for providing these drinks, were announced. The Rebbe would open the top of the bottle and himself distribute some of the contents amongst some of the celebrants.

We sang niggunim and in between the songs the Rebbe spoke a sicha. The first two talks were sichas of around fifteen minutes each and the third talk was a chassidic discourse known as a maamar, for which everyone - besides the Rebbe - would stand. The maamar lasted about forty-five minutes and everyone was listening very intently indeed.

There was further singing, and again people were wishing l‘chaim to the Rebbe to receive his blessing in return. In the middle of all this, the Rebbe called out to me: “Zalmon! Do not wait for kovod, get up and say “l‘chaim” to me.” I had already said it once, but the Rebbe wanted me to say another l‘chaim, which I obediently did. Then the Rebbe told me to say a third l‘chaim.

Some of the niggunim were terrific, very lively, happy and lebedik, with the Rebbe singing and leading the tempo with the motions of his fist. Faster, faster and faster still, with everyone yelling and singing, swaying and jumping up and down to the momentum.

Then the Rebbe spoke a third sicha that also lasted around fifteen minutes, then some more singing. The Rebbe then arose to leave; a passageway appeared as if by magic and the Rebbe made his exit. It was around 3:30 - two hours of concentrated talks and singing.

On the way out of the farbrengen the Rebbe met Roselyn, and, touching his hat, wished her a “Good Shabbos.”

We rushed home to have our Shabbos lunch - which we now called Sholosh Seudos - it was almost 4:00 now, and shortly after 5:00 we were back at 770 for mincha and then maariv.

During all the services the Rebbe did not speak to any individual personally, and most of time he wore a serious expression. (Hence our surprise at the Rebbe‘s warmth of welcome and lovely smile at our yechidus the following night.)

After maariv, I asked Rabbi Chodakov, the personal secretary of the Rebbe, when he thought we could get a private audience with the Rebbe. He told me that he had already arranged it for Sunday, the following night, at chatzos (midnight)! 12:00 midnight? It seemed absolutely crazy. To an Englishman 8 or even 9 o‘clock at night was very late for a conference, but midnight? It was explained to me how lucky we were to get such an early appointment, as 2:00 a.m. was considered quite early here.

The next morning, Sunday, Teves 24 (January 4), I davened shacharis at 770, then Mendel and Sarah gave us a lift to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. At 11:00 p.m. we left Manhattan to keep our appointment with the Rebbe.

The place was a hive of activity. Rabbi Chodakov made us feel welcome. We also met Dr. Nissen Mindel whom we knew very well from his “old Manchester” days. He married Netta Nemtzov, who had lived near us in Manchester. He was the Rebbe‘s secretary who attended mainly to the Rebbe‘s English language correspondence.