This being our first Yechidus, we had plenty of advisers regarding the protocol. Our dear friend and chief sponsor, Rabbi Shemtov, gave me the full rundown. I took particular note of his instructions such as, “Real chassidim don‘t shake hands with the Rebbe,” “Don‘t sit down,” and so forth.

Although our appointment was for midnight, it was 12: 45 before we were called in. (Whilst we were waiting, a man phoned from Chicago for an appointment. Rabbi Chodakov told him that the earliest date available was in three months time after Pesach!)

Upon entering the Rebbe‘s sanctum we were startled and amazed to see the Rebbe actually stand up and come forward to greet us, with his hand outstretched.

“Oh,” said I, “I am sorry, but Rabbi Shemtov said I must not shake hands with the Rebbe.”

“Never mind,” answered the Rebbe smiling, and with a lovely twinkle in his eye. “We won‘t tell Rabbi Shemtov.” He shook hands with me. He then invited us to sit down.

“Oh dear, no,” said I, horrified. “Rabbi Shemtov told me that on no account must I sit down.”

The Rebbe laughed it off and said “After the third time, I will see about you standing during yechidus.”

So I sat down, thinking to myself that it had taken me forty years to get to America. I did not expect to come a second time, never mind a third time! (Jumping forward a little, up until 1993, I had crossed the Atlantic seventy times to visit the Rebbe. I have met the Rebbe privately on over 120 occasions. In addition, I have enjoyed many a “mini-yechidus.” I was also privileged to be one of those fortunate men whom the Rebbe would invite for the holiday meals, which gave me further opportunities to “talk” to the Rebbe. The Rebbe only offered me a seat at the yechidus on our first three visits! Within time, I also stopped shaking hands with the Rebbe.)

We immediately got down to to business, discussing, at first, the many and varied communal and general matters of Manchester, as well as our own personal and family affairs.

We remained closeted with the Rebbe for two hours.

Until this meeting we had only seen the Rebbe at the services and at the farbrengen; it was amazing for us to behold such a transformation in a human being. Instead of the serious expression and far away look which the Rebbe habitually seemed to wear, we found ourselves now conversing with a very cheerful, happy and friendly - albeit holy - person. He had a gorgeous smile, and the dazzling twinkle in his eyes lightened the seriousness of the occasional criticism or rebuke. (Soon enough we learned that the Rebbe saw and knew everyone and everything. That far-away look was really far-sighted and far-seeing.)

The Rebbe was extremely keen and concerned about a good Jewish education. He would like to see our Jewish day school movement in England, extended until the age of sixteen. What we were doing for the young children should, and must, be accomplished for the older ones. The Rebbe placed particular emphasis on girls education. Jewish high school for girls and Jewish grammar school for boys should be supported and encouraged.

The Rebbe considered it most important and vital that boys should spend at least twelve months at any yeshiva before studying for a career. Girls should attend a seminary for higher Jewish education.

On that topic, I had a personal matter to discuss with the Rebbe regarding our son Avrohom‘s future education.

About a year-and-a-half before, on Tishrei 5, 5718 (September 30, 1957), the Rebbe had written to me to this effect. He had stated:

...in which you ask my opinion with regard to the future education of your son, Abraham Joseph.

Considering his age and the preparation that is required for life in the present troubled times, it is my opinion that he should dedicate at least one year to the exclusive study of the Torah. If this is difficult to arrange in Manchester, no doubt Gateshead or London will offer the proper conditions.

I need hardly say that the first thing that is most essential in life, on which everything else depends, including parnoso [livelihood], is courage and peace of mind. And, to devote one year to the exclusive study of the Torah, is the least preparation that a Jewish boy can do, before entering into mature independent life. This year should not, G‑d forbid, be considered as a sacrifice, rather as a very good investment, and a springboard for future success, whatever his choice should be, either a career or business...

I was not too pleased with the Rebbe‘s suggestion that we should send Avrohom to Gateshead or to London. I wanted him to be with the Rebbe at 770. I was anxious that he should imbibe the Lubavitcher atmosphere at the highest level.

I did not have too much confidence in Avrohom‘s stamina and resolution to remain at yeshiva for twelve months. I was hoping that he would be prevailed upon to stay for at least three months, so that he would become a chossid of the Rebbe, if not a Rabbi himself.

I had written these above-mentioned ideas to the Rebbe.

During this yechidus, we picked up the “discussion” started in our written correspondence and we made an important decision. The Rebbe intimated that he would accept Avrohom in the yeshiva at 770 with “both arms wide open.” Afterwards, if Avrohom desired to take up dentistry, the Rebbe would have no objection and would acquiesce.

I gave over to the Rebbe messages, requests for blessings etc. The Rebbe made a written note of them all.

Regarding my business issues and specifically that I thought government surplus (which was my primary business involvement at the time) would eventually die out, the Rebbe said, “it would be a good idea to look for a sideline.”

The Rebbe encouraged Roselyn to get involved with, and try and prevail on a certain women‘s organization, to interest themselves in children‘s and girls‘ Jewish education, instead of solely fundraising.

The Rebbe concluded our yechidus by stating that he was deferring his main brocha and advice to us until we returned from Miami Beach and after the Yud Shevat farbrengen.

He would then also give us instructions regarding spreading the good work of Lubavitch in Manchester. This appointment would be for Sunday evening, Shevat 16 (January 25, 1959), just before our departure for home on the Tuesday morning at 10:00.

The Rebbe then rose to see us to the door and remarked, “Go and have a good vacation, and when you return we will get down to business.” (This – after two hours!)

Avrohom Shemtov then provided us with refreshments – lemonade and cake – and a car to take us back to the Waldorf Hotel, where we retired to bed at four in the morning.