Not long after the Stalin era, sometime around 1954, R. Moshe spoke to my brother Berel and the Shiff brothers, Leibke and Berke, about founding a local Jewish organization. Its objectives were to be the preservation and promotion of Judaism, and the provision of economic assistance for Jews in Samarkand. In those years, these goals were completely outrageous, but R. Moshe presented the idea at that first meeting in a way that radiated thrill and intrigue, and managed to excite some of the others.

These young men were invited to the lobby of a hotel. R. Moshe had brought with him a Tanya - the basic text of Chabad Chassidism - hidden inside the daily edition of Pravda. There, they laid their hands upon the Tanya and swore to act with complete and utter devotion for an organization whose activities would be in accordance with the Rebbe’s guidance and directives. Of course, this proclamation was more symbolic than practical, for in those years we had no tangible means of communication with the Rebbe. We were scared to even mention the word “Rebbe” or “Chassid.”

A year or two after the first meeting, when I was sixteen, R. Moshe approached me and said, “I see that you have a talent for community work. I suggest that you join us in our holy work.”

I had always nurtured a burning desire to be involved in this sort of activism, and I readily accepted his invitation. He told me to come up with some original ideas for future activities, saying that we would meet in a few days and I would share my ideas. I did as he suggested, and I quickly became a close friend of R. Moshe’s.

At first, the organization was called Chevras Ahavas Yisrael, the Association for Love of the Fellow Jew, or by the acronym "Chai." But soon after, while studying the Shelah, a classic, proto-Chassidic work, R. Moshe came across a discussion of the tremendous virtue in inspiring increased religious observance in others. To reflect this priority, he renamed the organization Chaburas Mezakei Ha’Rabim—roughly,the Society for the Promotion of Public Merit—or simply, "Chamah." I made my own name for the organization, using that same acronym: Chabad M’Bris Ha’Moatzos—Chabad of the Soviet Union.