Back then, nearly all the boys in Samarkand used bicycles to get around. I remember that when R. Mendel Futerfas arrived in Samarkand for the first time, he found it odd to see us riding around on bicycles; he called us “Bicycle Chassidim”. R. Betzalel Schiff would also ride a bicycle, and he once broke his foot in an accident. He was in the year of mourning for his mother at the time, and since his foot was in a cast, he held daily prayers in his home so that he could say Kaddish. Naturally, the boys who learned in his house helped to make the minyan, especially for the prayers later in the day.

Once, R. Bentzion Rubinson rode his bicycle to R. Betzalel’s house for the afternoon prayers. He tied his bicycle to a tree near the house and went inside. A short while later, a local policeman who was passing by noticed the bicycle on the street unsupervised, and he decided to enter the house and find out to whom it belonged.

At precisely that moment, all of the men were standing and silently praying the Shmoneh Esrei. They heard the knocks at the door and immediately understood that it was a stranger. We usually had secret ways of knocking - two knocks, a small pause, and then three knocks, for example - but this was an ordinary knock, and it was not stopping. One of the little children, who did not know about the secret knocks, opened the door. As Moshe Chaim took three steps backwards at the conclusion of Shmoneh Esrei, there was the policeman standing behind him!

“Whose bicycle is near the house?” the policeman began to ask, but immediately was silenced by the odd sight of a group of men standing and swaying. After a moment he said, “What is this? A meeting?”

R. Betzalel went over to him and said, “As you can see, I broke my leg and they came to visit me.” It was a flimsy excuse, but he had to say something.

In the meantime, the policeman went over to the table that was piled high with prayer books and began to leaf through them. He opened one siddur from left to right and found the first page (actually the last) with the Mourner's Kaddish in transliterated Russian letters. He began to read it, not understanding a word of what he was saying. After he read a few lines he stopped and asked, “What does it say here?”

They told him that it’s a prayer said when a relative dies. He looked uncomfortable and it was clear that he was afraid of the dead. He abruptly closed the siddur and put it down. R. Betzalel called the policeman over to the side, handed him a bribe, and he went on his way.