Miraculously, R. Berke made it to Samarkand without incident. He went to the home of the Mishulovin family, old friends of his, and found refuge with them. I was a little boy when I went to visit my friend Michoel Mishulovin and saw a stranger in the other room talking to the elder Mishulovin brother, Eliyahu. Although R. Eliyahu was only nineteen, he was considered an intelligent young man and R. Berke was comfortable conversing with him.

When they saw me, they closed the door, and I realized that he was a Jew in hiding whose presence was a secret. As such, I did not tell anyone what I had seen. Afterwards I found out that it was R. Berke Chein.

Nobody in Samarkand knew that R. Berke was in the city. In order to guarantee that none of the family members would spill the beans by mentioning “R. Berke” by mistake, he decided to call himself “R. Chaim.” Actually, it was not a lie, since his full name was Chaim Dov Ber.

In general, R. Berke was very particular about telling the truth. He said that the Rebbe Rayatz was once asked what to do during a KGB interrogation; it's forbidden to lie, but of course you could not tell the truth either. The Rebbe Rayatz answered that lying wasn’t permitted, but the truth still had to be concealed....

So when we spoke about R. Berke, we would call him R. Chaim. My aunt Rosa Duchman, a well-known wit, nicknamed him “the Afikoman”: Like the highly sought-after piece of matzah on the Pesach Seder night, he remained thoroughly hidden.

R. Berke stayed in the Mishulovin home for a few months until he began to fear that someone had noticed him, and it was decided that he should move to another hiding place. After much deliberation and careful investigation of the possible hiding places among residents of the city, staying with us emerged as the next best option. Eliyahu Mishulovin spoke with my older brother Berel about relocating R. Berke to our house and my brother discussed it with our parents. They gave their consent and R. Berke moved into our home.

I was about ten years old at the time. My parents told me that we would be having a guest, a Jew who had no other place to live. They warned me that nobody was allowed to know that he was in our house.

Our home consisted of two rooms and a small corridor. The first room was a dining room, living room, kitchen, and bedroom for my parents, sister, and myself. The second room, which was not heated in the winter nor cooled in the summer, was for R. Berke. Berel slept in that room too. In the winter we would try to set up a kerosene heater to warm the room, but in the summer the room was sticky with thick humidity.

The bedroom was connected to a little porch that faced the yard, but during the day, R. Berke did not dare to go out on the porch lest one of the neighbors catch sight of him. He was holed up in the heat of his room all day, but absorbed in prayer and his personal divine service. Late in the evening he would go out on the porch to breathe some fresh air.

I remember that during the long summer days my mother would tell R. Berke to go rest a bit. He would point to the cemetery that could be seen from the window of our home and say, “Over there, we will rest a lot. Now there’s no time for that.”

Some Bucharian families lived in our courtyard, but our apartment was on the second floor, separate from the rest. This was a big advantage when it came to hiding R. Berke’s presence but it created an uncomfortable problem. In those days we did not have a bathroom, and used an outhouse some forty or fifty meters away from the house. It was a small structure housing a hole in the ground partially covered by some wooden boards.

R. Berke certainly could not go out to the yard every time he needed to relieve himself; before a day would have gone by all of our neighbors would know of the presence of a foreign man in our home. Lacking an alternative, he used a chamber pot, which had to be emptied a number of times daily. We were only young boys, and were hardly attentive to these small details, so the burden fell upon our mother.

She did everything with sensitivity, not only to keep things secret from the neighbors, but also so that R. Berke would not notice and feel uncomfortable. She would wait until R. Berke was immersed in prayer, at which time he would not see or hear anything going on around him, and she would hurry to clean up. She did this not only for the first day, or week, or even the first year of his stay, but for the entire five to six years that R. Berke was an intermittent guest in our home.

There were no washing machines in those days and my mother had to wash all of our clothes, as well as R. Berke’s clothes, by hand. She would place the clothes in a pot of hot water and soap, rub the garments with soap on an iron washing board, and rinse them clean. It was hard work indeed. R. Berke tried to do it himself a number of times, but my mother wouldn’t hear of it. “How can I allow him to tear himself away from his service, his prayin,g and learning?” she would say. “For me it is the greatest privilege!” R. Berke pleaded with her to hire a gentile woman to do it, but we could not bring a stranger into the house as long as he was hiding there. My mother tried to do the laundry when R. Berke was still praying to avoid making him feel uncomfortable.

Over the years that R. Berke stayed with us, he became sick a number of times. Naturally, my parents could not take him to the doctor, or call one in. How we managed each time, I do not remember, and looking back, I can’t understand how we did. I do recall one time though, when he was seriously, even dangerously, ill, and we had no choice but to call in a doctor. My parents explained that we had a guest who had become sick.

My parents, like the Mishulovin family, where R. Berke had also hid, knew the price they would pay if they would be discovered hiding a fugitive being sought after by the Soviet police. But did they have another choice? They couldn’t throw a person into the clutches of the KGB! Once, I heard the adults discussing a possible story to tell in case he was caught, G‑d forbid. They would claim not to know R. Berke: this unfortunate person had simply showed up at their door without a place to live, and as compassionate people they’d had pity on him and took him in. They knew that the KGB would not buy the story but knowing that they at least had a cover story in place helped to calm them somewhat.

One day, sometime into R. Berke's stay with us, some government official came by our house to check the residents’ logbook. He entered our home and noticed that the door to the second room was closed; as usual, R. Berke was in his room praying. As he opened the door, there was R. Berke, standing in prayer. My parents told the official that he was praying and could not be disturbed, but he apparently suspected that something was not as it should be and began to ask questions about who this man was. He had to be bribed so he would not talk.

After that incident, R. Berke relocated to his other hideout—the Mishulovin home. The government official, however, continued to return to our house every month and demand money so that he would keep his mouth closed.