R. Berke continued to hide in our house, and in the Mishulovin house, immersed in his spiritual world and busying himself all day with prayer and Torah study. No resolution of this situation could be seen on the horizon.

Throughout this time, there were meetings between our families about what to do for R. Berke: his present situation could not continue. The families came to the conclusion that the only thing that could be done was to change his identity papers so that he would become a “new” man.

Indeed a plot was hatched to use connections in the Interior Ministry to furnish papers and a work permit for him with the name “Goldberg.” However, the plans were put on indefinite hold after a ring of forgers was caught, including the woman that had tried to help R. Berke, and such a move became much too dangerous.

Although I was a young boy, I thought, “Why did G‑d do this?” No one knew how to proceed. A short while later the situation became bleaker with the notorious Doctors’ Plot and the outbreak of anti-Semitic attitude that erupted because of it. The newspapers were full of loathsome propaganda against the Jews and morale in the Jewish communities was at an all-time low.

You can imagine how R. Berke and all of us felt. We knew that we were hiding a “traitor” who had wanted to cross the border illegally. In those days the government sought to besmirch the Jews, and any revelation like this was immediately blown to enormous disproportions and deemed counter-revolutionary.

My mother would comfort R. Berke and say, “Don’t be distressed. The time will come when your wife, Feigel, will come to you, and both of you will travel to Eretz Yisrael and join your sons.”

This seemed so outlandish at the time, so removed from reality, that R. Berke said sorrowfully, “Oy, I am here in a situation worse than that of a dog. A dog can roam freely in the streets, while I have to hide indoors all day. I have no identity papers and I’m trapped with no hope on the horizon. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring—will I remain here, will I be in a Jewish home, or will they arrest me? If they arrest me, they will send me to Siberia. Then what? Feigel will remain an agunah forever.”

At that time, my mother’s optimism seemed like salt poured on an open, raw wound.

It was only after Stalin’s sudden death on Purim 1953, and the subsequent release of the doctors on chol hamoed Pesach, that things started looking up. The situation eased to the extent that R. Berke finally acceded to my mother’s pleading and agreed to let her write a letter to her brother in Lvov, who would give regards to Freida, R. Berke’s daughter. As my mother anticipated, her brother, and R. Berke’s wife, understood the hint and she quickly sent a letter in response. You can imagine how excited R. Berke was to see his wife’s handwriting. He read line after line as his shoulders heaved with broken cries.