Meanwhile. R. Berke was taken to the cellars of the KGB headquarters and after a long, painful interrogation he was sentenced to death. Eventually, they reduced his sentence to eighteen years imprisonment, and then finally to ten years.

Throughout this terrifying time, Feigel worked behind the scenes to extract her husband out of jail. She did not rest, day or night, and by an extraordinary miracle, after two years, she managed to bribe a few of the right people and have R. Berke released. The Cheins lived for a short while in Lvov, where R. Berke’s two brothers resided, during which time their daughter Freida was born.

Not long afterwards, the authorities decided to once again pursue anyone connected to the great escape from Russia of 1946-47 who had not yet been arrested, or like R. Berke, had been arrested and released.

As was their way, the secret police descended upon several homes the same night, so that they would be able to warn one another. They arrested several activists who had remained in Lvov, one of whom being R. Berke’s brother, Dovid Leib. R. Dovid Leib’s wife managed to run to R. Berke and warn him to flee. Minutes later, agents showed up at R. Berke’s house. Miraculously, he had managed to flee the house with only his tallis and tefillin, only just before they showed up.

From that point on, a dangerous and exhausting chapter in R. Berke’s life began, as he was forced to wander from one hiding place to another, his freedom hanging by a hair. He was afraid to notify his family of his whereabouts, and so began a long period of separation from his wife as well, lasting until 1958.

At first he concealed himself with a family in Lvov and did not even step outdoors. When he felt the noose tightening in Lvov, he traveled to his aunt Bas-Sheva, the wife of R. Yehuda Kulasher (Butrashvili), who lived in Malachovka, a suburb of Moscow.

It did not take long for the police to visit his aunt’s house and ask whether they had any guests. R. Berke was in the middle of his prayers completely unaware that anything else was happening. The police, however, noticed his figure from behind, wrapped in tallis and tefillin and facing the wall, and asked who he was. R. Yehuda asked them not to disturb him since he was praying, and incredibly, they left.

Naturally, after such a close encounter, R. Berke was afraid to continue staying at his aunt’s house, so he left. But even though his fervent praying had very nearly gotten him caught, R. Berke refused to be daunted by the police: He remained particular about even the smallest details of chassidic practice throughout his wanderings, even when it was immensely dangerous to do so.

R. Berke went from place to place among Lubavitch families living in various suburbs of Moscow for some time, until he felt that he had to leave and decided to travel to distant Samarkand. The trip from Moscow to Samarkand, which took a few days by train, was dangerous. Passengers were checked several times during the long trip by conductors, as well as by policemen, who would enter the train at various stops to verify that no one was transporting illegal merchandise. Each passenger was required to present his passport and other documents.

Needless to say, if they would have checked R. Berke’s papers and discovered that he was a wanted man, he would have been in serious trouble. Staying in Moscow however was no longer an option, so despite the danger, R. Berke had no choice but to travel to Samarkand. He hoped that in a place far from Lvov, and distant from the center of Russia, he would be left alone.