R. Eliyahu Shusterman, an older and distinguished member of the shul, died on the 18th of Elul, late in the summer of 1951. It was understood, even by the informants, that a minyan would be organized in his home for the first seven days of mourning, as is customary. We, the children, avoided participating in this minyan, seeing as the regular members of the shul were there, amongThe informants grew weary... them the informants. But, after several days, the informants grew weary of partaking in this particular minyan and soon returned to attending services at the shul. This granted us children the ability to sneak in warily and join the specially arranged minyan.

When the seven days were over, some people suggested that the minyan nevertheless continue to operate in R. Eliyahu Shusterman’s home. He was a prominent individual, and the honor the minyan afforded him seemed befitting. Everyone agreed with this proposal and the Torah scroll remained in his house for three more weeks, until the end of the traditional second stage of mourning. The real reason behind the suggestion, of course, was to facilitate a minyan for the young boys during the High Holidays, which just happened to fall during that second stage of mourning.

A month elapsed, and the people attending the minyan, all of whom were Lubavitchers, noted that no one had batted an eyelash in their direction. Even the informants no longer made an appearance. They therefore resolved to continue to daven there every Shabbos. However, they avoided conducting daily prayer there, as that would be dangerously noticeable, and they did not want to jeopardize the existence of the minyan altogether.

Amazingly, the shul wardens forgot about the Torah Scroll that remained in R. Eliyahu Shusterman’s house. We were finally able to have a minyan on Shabbos and the Holidays, along with the Torah reading.

A year passed and the wardens still hadn’t mentioned anything. We wanted to find a place for the Torah that was safer and more concealed than the semi-official minyan in R. Eliyahu’s house, so we opted to transfer it to one of our homes and keep it there for whenever it was needed.

Several months went on in this fashion, until the Doctors’ Plot commenced, and harassmentHarassment against the Jewish population intensified daily against the Jewish population intensified daily. The situation was so harsh that we were frightened to retain the Torah scroll in our homes. Despite the fact that we obtained the Torah in such a miraculous manner, we sincerely considered returning it to the main shul in order to alleviate the fear that the Scroll be found in our home, a discovery that was sure to mark our fateful end.

I must mention the great merit of Gittel, the wife of R. Michoel Goldshmidt, who insisted that under no circumstance should the Torah be returned to the shul, and the secret Torah readings put to an end. She took hold of the Torah and concealed it in her house until after the death of Stalin and the doctors’ release.