At the beginning of my second year in public school, my father was also able to arrange things with the third grade teacher so that she would also turn a blind eye to my regular Shabbos absences. Since this was working well, my father hoped to leave me in third grade for another year: fourth grade offered additional subjects, with more teachers, and he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to arrange something with all of them.

Again,My father claimed that I was a weak child my father claimed that I was a weak child and would have a hard time acclimating to the pressures of fourth grade, so he requested that I stay in third grade. I remember R. Yaakov Notik, himself an esteemed member of our community, being surprised by my father’s level of commitment after hearing of these efforts: Everybody wants his child to be skipped a grade while R. Avrohom is trying to keep his son back!

However, at the end of the year, my secret was discovered when the principal found out that my regular absences were connected with the Jewish religion. I arrived early at school one Monday, as usual, and when I entered the classroom I noticed that the teacher hadn’t showed up yet. A few minutes later I received orders to go immediately to the principal’s office.

I fearfully made my way to the principal’s office, where the principal, assistant principal and teacher were waiting - by law, my teacher also had direct responsibility for her students. The three of them gazed at me intently, and then the principal asked in a firm voice: "Tell us Zaltzman, why don’t you attend school on Saturday? Who forbids you to do so?"

I said that I was weak and the doctor said I should rest two days a week. Despite my young age, I knew the game I was supposed to play and I knew to insist that my absences had nothing to do with religion. The principal and assistant principal, as well as my teacher, yelled at me, and berated me for my fanaticism. They said that if I insisted on resting two days a week, I could pick another day of the week - but not Saturday. They also told me that my father was being summoned to come down to the school.

When my father appeared in school they warned him that if he continued to prevent his son from going to school on Shabbos for religious reasons, he would be in trouble. They threatened that his parental rights could be rescinded and I would be reeducated in a state school where I would be forced to stay in a dormitory. My father denied responsibility for my absences on Shabbos, and I also maintained that it was only a matter of my health. They demanded that if it was so, I had better appear in school the following Saturday.

After the daunting meeting with the principal, my father began to look for a school in another district. Once again, he hoped to enroll me in a school in a non-Jewish area so that the real reason for my absence on Shabbos would remain unknown. In the meantime, my father tried to convince me to go to school the next Shabbos. He told me he would hide my briefcase in school on Friday so that I could go to school on Shabbos without having to carrying it. He would speak to the teacher to arrange permission to abstain from writing, or any other desecration of Shabbos.

Still,My father began to look for a school in another district I was nervous that I would be compelled to write and I refused to go to school. My father, afraid that they would carry out their threat of sending me to a government orphanage, pleaded with me:

"You are not yet bar mitzvah,” he said - technically, I was not fully obligated to observe the Shabbos. “But,” he continued, "If you don’t go to school for just this one Shabbos to placate the principal, it poses a big danger for all of us. They can arrest me and send you to a state orphanage, where they will certainly force you to write on Shabbos!"

Despite my father's exhortations, I was still scared by the thought of being forced to write. So, the next Shabbos morning I got up early, and while my father and the family were still sleeping, I quietly left the house and went over to my friend Michoel Mishulovin for a while. By the time I came back, it was already too late to go to school.

Although my father fully accepted my decision, after this incident, he began searching feverishly for a new school, hoping they wouldn't learn of what had happened at the school I had left. Indeed, after a short while, my father found a new school for me in another district of the city, almost an hour's walk from the Jewish neighborhood. They hadn’t heard about Shabbos over there and I would be able to be absent without arousing suspicion. My father explained to the principals of my present school that he wanted to transfer me to a different school because my aunt lived in that area and she would care for me.

The administration, uninterested in problems with a religiously observant child, happily agreed to get rid of me and quickly transferred the appropriate documents to the new school.

My father spoke to my new teacher, Ms. Fidasya Archifovna, and arranged that I would not attend school on Saturdays due to my poor health. As such, my staying home on Shabbos was not an issue. However, the great distance to the new school made things very difficult for me. In those days there was no transportation to school and I had to walk about fifty minutes on foot, each way. During the winter months, whether it was raining or snowing, I had to leave early in the morning while it was still dark outside. In those days the streets weren’t lit up at night, and I was afraid to walk alone. Still, I was happy that this sacrifice granted me the ability to sanctify Shabbos.

After some months went by, the new school began asking me why I didn’t show up on Shabbos. This time, my father decided that perhaps we should deploy the opposite tactic: transfer me to a school in the Jewish neighborhoodThis sacrifice granted me the ability to sanctify Shabbos close to home, where the staff was Jewish, and hope that as a favor, they would allow me to be absent on Shabbos.

According to the law, when a student moves to another school, the principal has to transfer all of his papers, thus transferring the responsibility of the child to the new school. When my father went to my school and said he was switching me to a new school, he suggested that they avoid the bother of transferring the documents and that he would take care of it. The principal, happy to avoid the paperwork, agreed to his suggestion and handed my father the stack of papers.

My father forgot to go immediately to the new school where he planned on registering me. Two weeks elapsed and my father noted that neither school had taken any interest in me. He decided to wait a bit longer and see what would happen. After another few weeks went by, he realized that nobody had information about where I was supposed to be going to school, and nobody cared.

So I remained at home, and my public school tribulations came to a close.