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The Underground Yeshiva

Ironically, it was during the war years that the yeshiva flourished. The Communist police were preoccupied with the war against the Nazis and did not put much effort into the internal war against those “enemies of the state” still faithful to religion.
I started to get involved in communal work at the age of 16. When I approached the age of twenty, I began to make trips throughout Russia on various missions related to the communal good.
These underground studies were kept in the strictest confidence.
When R. Yaakov Chaim heard that there was a yeshiva in Samarkand, he was sure that as soon as he arrived he would find it. If he did not find it, he figured that he could ask in the local shul and he would be directed to the right place.
Certain parents not only did not know where the yeshiva was located, they did not even know their sons were in Samarkand!
Everyone would listen to the radio broadcast, hoping that maybe his luck had finally struck and that he would be the lucky winner.
Many times, the students hiding in the homes of members of the community encountered quite unpleasant situations.
Our ever-present, near-paranoid fear led to some uncomfortable situations.
When the book arrived, our joy in Samarkand was boundless. We excitedly devoured every line, including the short biographies of the Rebbes printed there.
He told her that a man had come who was prepared to take her son to yeshiva on condition that she would not ask where they were going.
We had no idea of the topics the Rebbe was addressing in his talks, or what he was demanding from the Chassidim at any given time.
We decided that if someone asked me about the yeshiva during the course of my travels, I would deny its existence. Even if it was someone who was aware, until then, of its existence, I would have to let him know that the yeshiva was no longer active.
Soviet military conscription meant parting completely with Torah and its commandments.
The Ribnitzer never asked him where he was learning, but he understood from conversing with him that he was studying somewhere, and he would give him 1,000 rubles as a donation for the yeshiva.
After several years of study, when the boys got older, we suggested to them to learn the art of kosher slaughtering.
I hope that they too transcribe their memories, “so that the future generations shall know.”

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