One of the most difficult challenges of being a religious Jew in the Soviet Union was making a living without desecrating the Shabbos. In Russia, everybody was obligated to work. If you were not employed, you were considered a parasite and your citizenship rights could be revoked. All official workplaces were open on Shabbos, and if you were registered as an employee, you were obligated to show up to work on Shabbos. An absence would lead to charges of religious worship, which was then considered a crime against the state. All businesses were state-owned, and therefore considered state property. By not coming to work, it was as if you were trying to undermine productivity, and therefore you were, in essence, undermining the Soviet economy.

The most common solution in the early years after the communist revolution was to work at home. Many religious Jews relied on a section of the law which allowed a person with physical limitations to work from home. This enabled them to work whenever they pleased.

Another option for circumventing this problem was opening a branch of a factory in an independent location, where they would be under less scrutiny. There was a government office in every city that was responsible to register the workers and the industries that were located in that city, and because in communist Russia there was no option of owning a private business, if you wanted to open a plant, you needed a government permit and strictly follow their official regulations.

Some factories produced many different kinds of products and if there was not enough room for all the workers and products within the main plant, the supervisors would open a branch of the factory in a different location. Like many of the Lubavitcher young men at that time, I had neither a college degree nor a profession. In order to support myself I decided to open a clothing-label factory. I went to one of the government factories and offered to expand that factory by opening a branch of my own. I assumed that they would take an interest in my proposal and would agree to my terms.

I presented them with samples of the cloth labels that I intended to produce. The factory managers had no idea how this would work—who would need these labels and who would buy them? I explained that the manufacturing would be done only after I received specific orders from the customer factories. I then explained that most workers in my line of work lived quite a distance from the factory and therefore wanted to open a branch in close proximity to where they lived.

A gift to the managers helped them made make the simple calculation. It did not make much of a difference to them if this department was situated far from the main plant, as long as I was not asking them to make any investments. They approved my request and I opened a factory near the Jewish area in Samarkand, where we lived.