Keeping a secret was a non-negotiable condition for anyone who wanted to be accepted to study. In those years, all it took was for one boy to start chattering and the entire underground network would be in grave danger.

After teaching the older boys, they would assist us in recruiting additional students. We told them to speak to their Jewish friends in public school and gauge how serious they were and how good they were at keeping a secret. These boys would then be included into our group. Thus, each of them formed a class of their own and transmitted what we taught them to other students.

They once recommended a certain boy, not yet Bar Mitzvah, who sensed that his friends were learning Torah and wanted to join. They were afraid to tell him about the group because even though he understood that it was secretive, his name alone reeked of trouble.

His grandfather was a cruel policeman and was infamous in Samarkand. During World War II, he caught Jews, accused them of various crimes, and threatened to give them over to the police. The refugee Jews had no choice but to bribe him so that he would leave them alone.

His son, the boy’s father, was not in the police force but he was known to be even crueler than his father. He remarried several times to both Jewish and non-Jewish women, and treated them all terribly. This boy was the son of a Jewish mother, a refined woman who suffered immeasurably from her husband until they divorced.

Initially we trembled at the mention the boy’s name and the thought of what might happen were we to accept him, and we refused to allow him to get involved. However, our students told us time and again that he was a good boy and he could keep a secret, and we finally agreed to include him. He was a good boy indeed, and he was successful in his learning. I myself taught him Chumash and basic Talmud. After a few years he immigrated to Israel where he married and established a fine, large Chassidic family. He is currently a rabbi and mentor in a Bucharian community and his children are Chassidim and G-d fearing Jews.

In the 1980s I made a trip to the Land of Israel and discovered this for myself. One Shabbos afternoon, I passed by a large shul in a Bucharian neighborhood. I glanced through the window and saw a rabbi giving a speech, the crowd listening avidly.

When I asked for his name, I was amazed at what I heard. He was that boy in Samarkand whom we had almost refused to accept into our classes!