When I first wrote about the secret yeshiva in Samarkand, I asked my friends and acquaintances, especially those who learned there at that time, to tell me what they remembered. I wanted to record their memories, to round out the fascinating history of the Samarkand underground. Surely, I thought, there were other stories and events that could be related from the perspective of the other students.

A short time later, I had occasion to speak with R. Moshe Chaim Cohen (Saidov). I remembered Moshe Chaim as a serious and mature young fellow. This was not because I did not know him as a child - I did - but because he was one of those children who were unusually grown-up at an early age. He was very well-liked and was a quick and clever child. He went about his business with a sense of maturity and duty, humbly and modestly.

It turned out that having been one of the students in Samarkand, he enjoyed reading the articles I had written about our underground activities there. As he read them, he told me, he found himself swept away by his own special memories of that time. R. Moshe Chaim told me that he once traveled to the Catskills with friends, and on the long trip he told them some anecdotes of his life in the underground yeshiva in Samarkand. They were so enthralled that when they arrived at their destination, they asked him to join them on their next trip so they could continue to hear his stories.

I was happy to hear this and I commented, “The story of our secret yeshiva is made up of hundreds of small stories, like a puzzle with hundreds of pieces. I've constructed the frame of the puzzle with my series of articles, but there are still many pieces missing. Can you fill in your share of the puzzle?”

After much persuasion, R. Moshe Chaim agreed. However, because by nature he is modest and shy of the public eye, I had to prod him gently for a few months before we finally sat down together. The following are the personal experiences he related to me.