In 1946 a new period began in Samarkand, and for those of us who stayed, a far more difficult one, both physically and spiritually. The city, and country, had just been emptied out of a great number of Chasidim, and the Soviet police, preoccupied until then with fighting the war, re-intensified their persecution against religion. We were left to contend with the constant battles waged against us.

The Chabad community remaining in Samarkand mostly comprised families who were afraid to take the risk of crossing the border. Among them was our family, the Mishulovin, Goldshmidt, Shif and Lerner families, my uncle R. Boruch Duchman, R. Eliyahu Paritcher (Levin) and a number of others. There were also some Lubavitcher families who had tried crossing the border but were unsuccessful, forced to return to Samarkand broken-hearted.

Included in the latter category were the brothers Dovid and Eli Mishulovin, both in their late teens at the time, who had decided to depart on their own in the hopes of joining a family with permission to cross the border. They were unsuccessful and returned home dejectedly. Despondent as they were about their failure to escape, they were relieved that they had escaped the clutches of the KGB and had not been arrested.

Dovid and Eliyahu had learnt in Tomchei Temimim in Samarkand during the war. Their father, R. Eliezer, was busy supporting his family, but R. Mendel Futerfas noted that these two boys hadpotential to grow into chassidic young men. He ensured that they were taken into the yeshiva, and educated in the spirit of Chassidus. Thinking of them calls to mind the Rebbe's remark to R. Moshe Herson, longtime dean of the yeshiva in Morristown, New Jersey: “You should know that there are certain students who don’t need special attention from the faculty. The very fact that they are found within the walls of the yeshiva is sufficient for them to develop along the proper path.”

The Mishulovin brothers grew in Torah and piety just from being within the walls of Tomchei Temimim. They were meticulous regarding Jewish Law and Chabad customs, and Eliyahu in particular was known to be quite an intellectual, as well as a person of great integrity and a fear of Heaven.

Even upon returning from their unsuccessful escape attempt, they continued to follow the Tomchei Temimim study regimen, studying secretly in the home of R. Eliyahu Paritcher.

The two Meshulovin boys also devoted themselves to the chassidic education of their younger brothers Yitzchok and Michoel. Dovid focused his attention on Yitzchok, the youngest, while Eliyahu directed his energy towards Michoel.

Shortly afterwards, another young manby the name of Moshe Nissilevitch, who was a little older than the two brothers, returned to Samarkand after his own unsuccessful attempt crossing the border. While he was known to his close friends as Maishke der geller"the yellow," a reference to his hair color—to everyone else he was Maishke Friedman. He had changed his legal name to avoid trouble with the authorities for his “sin” of trying to leave the Soviet Union, and the name stuck.

A relative of the Mishulovins from Tashkent, R. Aharon Zubrovsky, would come to visit Samarkand often, in order to spend time in the company of the Mishulovin brothers and Moshe Nissilevitch. Although R. Aharon was older than the Mishulovin brothers, these four bochurimyoung menformed a single group. R. Aharon, or “Arke,” as he was known, was very pious and particular in his religious observance. He would spend a considerable amount of time learning Chassidus before prayer, after which he would lay tefillin and pace the room in deep contemplation. He would then pray at great length with his face creased in concentration, sometimes snapping his fingers to the beat of a heartfelt Chassidic melody.

One day, I saw another older bochur in the Mishulovin home, who would also go on to become part of this same group for a time. At first, the Mishulovins didn’t tell me who he was, since he was there in hiding, and it was only later that I found out that he was R. Yaakov Notik, who, being blond-haired like R. Moshe, was known as Yankel der geller.

Aside from our fortune that we all lived together in Samarkand's Old City, I think it was especially fortunate that our little school with R. Benzion Maroz was in the Mishulovin home. Being in that home enabled us to experience first-hand its special chassidic atmosphere, and to witness the admirable conduct of the people who lived in it. These impressions would affect us deeply.

Of course, there were other Lubavitcher families in Samarkand—as well as R. Shlomo Leib Eliezerov and R. Simcha Gorodetzky's Bucharian students, but as youngsters we had little to do with them.

This small group, on the other hand, contributed immensely to the development of the chassidic character of Samarkand. Through their behavior, conversations, and farbrengens, they had a tremendous influence on the younger boys, and indirectly, on the adults of the local community as well. It can be said that they were the ones who created the “shpitz Chabad” atmosphere.