As much as we tried to maintain secrecy in all of our work, especially in regards to the farbrengens we arranged, there were times that we were lax. One such occasion, and a most memorable one indeed, was in the late 1960s, when a farbrengen commemorating the birthday of the Previous Rebbe took place on a Shabbos.

We conducted prayers and the farbrengen in one of the homes in the Bagishomol neighborhood: there was huge yard in Bagishomolthat was home to R. Refael and R. Moshiach Chudaitov, R. Moshe Nissilevitch, R. Berel Yaffe, R. Binyamin Malachovsky, and others. At this particular farbrengen, we went a bit overboard and did not keep things at our usual standard of secrecy. We allowed many more people than usual to participate, and even several of whom we were suspicious. The political climate was a bit calmer at that time, so we continued to farbreng, forgetting for the time the potential danger involved, placing our trust in Hashem.

A short while later, one of the most reliable members of our group was summoned by the KGB. One can just imagine the fear that gripped him. He did not tell anyone about the summons, and simply decided to pretend as if nothing had happened. When the appointed day arrived, he simply did not show up. When he received a second summons, he decided to visit his relatives in Moscow for the summer. But upon his return, he received yet another summons: the authorities had not forgotten about him. He realized that he could no longer hide, and lacking an alternative, on the set day he headed out for the “lions’ den.”

As luck would have it, he fell into the hands of the notorious interrogator, Aktchurin. Aktchurin was a Muslim Tatar and was appointed by the KGB as the supervisor over Jewish affairs in Samarkand. He had earned quite an evil name for himself amongst the Bucharian Jews.

At the beginning of the interrogation, Aktchurin and his underlings first made it clear that they knew about their subject just about everything he knew about himself. Almost as a side point they yelled at him for indiscretion with government property at his job. This was a secret, and until that moment he was sure that nobody knew about it but himself.

After that introduction, which was done with the specific intent of intimidating him, Aktchurin asked him a direct question: “Do you know Moishke the Blondie, the head of the "mafia"? Moishke the Blondie, of course, was none other than R. Moshe Nisselevitch.

“We know that he organizes underground Jewish schools,” he continued. “Legally it is permitted, but everything has to be registered in the government offices.”

Our friend saw through the smooth talk. He knew where they were heading: through pretending that the crime was not that serious, and that it was merely a matter of registration, he would feel comfortable telling them what he knew with the assurance that the information would not harm anyone.

He decided to deny having any connection with R. Moshe. “I don’t know a man with such a nickname. And I don’t know about these activities that you mentioned!”

Aktchurin then continued, “We know what you organized in the Bagishomol neighborhood. You organized a...” At this point he took a paper from his drawer and read from it, letter by letter, “...F-A-R-B-R-E-N-G-E-N!”

After he left the KGB office unharmed, our friend immediately hurried to R. Moshe and told him in detail all that had transpired.

It appears that the KGB knew plenty about our work, and if they desired they could have easily brought our activities to an end. However, since the political situation was indeed more relaxed at the time, they did not arrest us. We understood that their main objective was to frighten us.

Nevertheless, we requested from our colleague to disengage from further communal activities, on the chance that he would be summoned once again for interrogation.