After sixteen years of working in Samarkand, and in light of the Rebbe's instructions encouraging us to broaden our activities, we now focused on the idea of arranging learning programs in the cities and towns around Samarkand. Thousands of Jews lived in these towns, and their children attended public schools, lacking even a minimal knowledge of Judaism.

This task was given to R. Refael Chudaitov. As a local Bucharian Jew, he was familiar with the surrounding areas and knew many of the local families personally. We arranged for him to travel to the communities he was acquainted with and arrange classes for the children.

R. Refael, always energetic, accepted the task with joy. He traveled to the nearby towns and spoke with the local Jews, who were happy with the opportunity to have their children learn Torah. R. Refael hired knowledgeable men from the Bucharian community teach the children, the classes taking place either before or after their daily studies in public school.

If someone were to ask one of these teachers where the money came from to fund the work, and who was paying them, we made sure that Chamah would not be implicated. Instead, we had a story prepared: we would say that a man had died, and in his will he had requested that R. Refael arrange classes for children and pay the teachers with his money. We knew that the Muslims of Uzbekistan considered a will sacred, and nobody would dare try to stop him.

Thank G‑d, the project saw more success than we had expected, and within a short period of time, a few hundred children were learning in these Torah classes. According to my calculations, throughout the years—from after the war until the year 1971, the year we left the Soviet Union—more than 1,500 students learned in our programs in Samarkand and the surrounding villages. When I think about this today, it’s hard for me believe that we were successful with so many children, under communist rule no less. For while the government did not arrest people at this time, the threat of arrest continued to instill fear into all our hearts.