One of my fond childhood memories is of the parovoz of Simchas Torah. It was either during the war years or immediately following the war, when the Communist government had not yet fully recovered and Jewish life in Samarkand was flourishing.

R. Notte Barkahan, or as he was known “Notke Riger” after his hometown of Riga, was among the refugees who fled to Samarkand. He was eighteen at the time, tall and good looking, an energeticyoung man.

After going home for Kiddush, l’chaim and a lively farbrengen, once everyone had begun making their way back to shul for the dancing, Notke gathered all the children and set them up in a line. Together, he formed them into a parovoz, a “locomotive”, that paraded its way through the streets, with Notke taking the lead. He served as the “engine” of the “train,” followed by dozens of children, each one grasping the collar of the child before him, all the while moving his hands as if they were the wheels turning and whistling loudly “Fu . . . fu . . .” imitating the sound of steam emitting from the engine.

Then, suddenly, he whistled sharply and called out, “Tzon kedoshim!” and we all shouted out, “Meh . . . meh . . .”

He then continued, “Gut iz einer [Hashem is one]!” and we replied, “Meh . . . meh . . .”

And so it continued as we paraded along, calling and shouting until we reached the shul and joined the dancing and singing. This was the highlight of our Simchas Torah, and we would wait eagerly for this exciting event.