In 1956, Wladyslaw Gomulka became the premier of Poland. Through some intense diplomacy with Russia, he convinved Premier , Khrushchev to concede to a humanitarian concession and signed an agreement with Poland which stated that any Polish citizen who had not left in 1946-7 could present a request to leave if a reasonable explanation was provided as to why he hadn’t taken the opportunity to leave after the war.

Chassidim rejoiced over this new prospect to leave Russia, but very few were able to actually take advantage of it and leave for Poland.

I was a young bachur and I didn’t see a future for religious life in Russia. I always yearned to leave and when I heard about this agreement between Russia and Poland, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

There was a Jewish woman by the name of Luba Gubanda who lived in our neighborhood and she did not have Russian features. She spoke Yiddish with a Polish accent and I thought she might be a native Pole. I did some research and discovered that indeed she was a former Polish citizen. After I spoke to her, I learned that she had a sensible reason why she had not left Russia in 1946.

She had an only daughter by the name of Genia. My idea was to have the government register me as married to Genia and then to submit a request for my entire family to leave for Poland. (This was not my innovation: manyhad arranged for fictitious marriages with Polish citizens during the previous wave of departures as well.)

Before presenting her with the idea, I spoke with my parents and brother-in-law, R. Eliyahu Mishulovin, and after they consented to my plan, I approached Luba with the proposal, adding that I would pay her if she agreed. She gave her general consent but said that the problem was that her daughter was a member of the komsomol, the communist youth group. Genia certainly wouldn’t agree to leave Mother Russia. She wouldn’t agree to discuss it with her daughter because she feared that her daughter’s loyalty to the party would supersede her family loyalties and she would snitch to the government. That was life in Russia. There were many instances in which children ratted out their parents to the KGB. That was the extent of the brainwashing of the youth to total subservience to the Communist philosophy.

Having no other choice, I undertook the difficult and dangerous mission of speaking to the girl directly. You can understand that if her mother was nervous that she would inform on her then I was obviously very apprehensive about talking to her, but I decided to take the risk. G‑d put the right words into my mouth and I managed to convince her. There was an additional problem, though: she was only 16, and according to law, you could not marry before 18. After much effort, we were able to arrange connections in the ministry of the interior and obtained a false identity card for her stating that she was 18.

Everything was proceeding according to plan, and we sincerely hoped that the day we had been yearning for would soon arrive and we would leave the Soviet Union.

Although we kept the entire plan undercover, the mother was a big talker and she spread the news that Hillel Zaltzman was marrying her daughter and then they were all going to Poland. Of course she didn’t tell anyone that this was a fictitious marriage but since she and her daughter were not religious, it was wholly obvious. Word spread followed by explanation: Hillel Zaltzman is marrying into a secular family…. Surely, this is being done only in order to leave Russia!

You can imagine how scared my father and our entire family were when the news spread throughout the Jewish section of Samarkand. I canceled the deal before we would get caught. The mother and daughter did indeed take the opportunity to leave Russia, while our rosy hopes disintegrated.