On Sukkos, we were easily able to build sukkahs in our yards. This was an accepted practice of all Bucharian Jews and the authorities didn’t prevent it. The minyanim were just as difficult to arrange on the Yomim Noraim as they were on Shabbos but at least we were granted the ability to spend Sukkos farbrenging in the fresh autumn breeze, nestled within the cozy sanctuary of our sukkah.

After we obtained and compiled the fragmented pieces of Likutei Dibburim, we would peruse the pages thirstily, mesmerized by the descriptions of Chassidim of previous generations. So long as there were no disturbances from unfamiliar knocks on the courtyard door, we would sit in our glorious haven and revel in the splendor of the sichos.

Sukkos presented us with but one major problem, and one which was quite severe - how to obtain an esrog. Of the Four Species customarily assembled and used for the festival - willow, myrtle, palm-frond and citron - finding the citron, or esrog, in that part of the world was always the greatest challenge. Some years were better, requiring less effort, and some years proved more difficult.

As in the stories of the Jewish shtetls of yesteryear, at times we had to suffice with just one esrog for the entire community, usually obtained at the last minute, with great difficulty, and at enormous cost.

I recall the days preceding Sukkos of the year 1949, during the frenzied years under Stalin. Sukkos was fast approaching and we lacked even a a single esrog. R. Avrohom Borochov, a wealthy man and a close acquaintance of the Chassidim in Samarkand, traveled to Moscow and purchased a single esrog for 10,000 rubles, a tremendous fortune at that time, paying for it entirely with his own money.

On the other hand, the palm leaves and myrtle sprigs were easy to come by, thanks to the devotion of young men such as R. Itche Mishulovin, R. Aharon Makovetsky, R. Berke Schif, and others, who would travel to Georgia where these plants grew and return to Samarkand with a stash of them. Willows, too, were not a problem, for they grew in abundance by the rivers near Samarkand.

At the end of the 60s we were able to obtain esrogs more easily. The Rebbe would send a few of the precious fruits to Russia with tourists who would be traveling to Moscow and Tashkent during their trip. One can only imagine our great joy when one year we heard that the Rebbe had specified that a certain esrog be given to Samarkand. With only one esrog to hold for the relevant parts of the prayers, and such a prized one at that, the Sukkos morning services naturally took a very long time.

Extra long Sukkos prayers aside, possessing only one esrog presented us with a dilemma. We were aware that there were hundreds of Jews residing in towns around Samarkand who didn’t have the privilege of owning an esrog of their own, or even access to one. We therefore took turns every one of the Intermediate Days of Sukkot traveling with the esrog from town to town in order to enable these Jews to perform the mitzvah of gathering all of the Four Species, despite the danger this entailed. I remember that when we would arrive at these towns a long line of the local Jews would have already formed at a pre-determined spot, awaiting the esrog’s arrival.

The esrog that we possessed was usually from Israel, but when R. Mendel Futerfas arrived in Samarkand he encouraged the young men to try to obtain an esrog from Calabria, Italy, saying that it was the Chabad custom.

The righteous women of Samarkand wanted to perform the mitzvah as well, and the scrupulous among them refrained from eating before reciting the blessing on the Four Species. Naturally, they desired to fulfill the mitzvah in the morning, as soon as the men concluded prayers, but we felt that it was of great importance to set out to the outlying towns as early as we could. This was a hot topic that surfaced every year and caused arguments that could get quite lively...