The Klein family of Tashkent, friends of our family, once told us that they had good connections with the superintendent of the jail in their city, an Uzbek, and he told them that he used to live in Samarkand and was a close friend of the person who issued visas. He hinted to them that in exchange for a gift, of course, he would agree to be the go-between.

I immediately traveled to Tashkent where R. Moshe Klein introduced me to the superintendent. We made plans to travel together by train to Samarkand. His friend would come to the station, ostensibly to greet him, and the superintendent would introduce me to him. I agreed to pay the man 1,000 rubles for his services.

We traveled together and throughout the trip, we did not talk to one another, as though we were strangers. We didn’t want anyone to suspect that there was a connection between us.

We arrived at the train station in Samarkand at eight in the morning and found his friend waiting for us. The Uzbeki introduced me and I gave him the 1,000 rubles. He hadn’t yet slipped it into his pocket when suddenly a policeman appeared and stood between us as if to separate us. In the typical KGB fashion, he “asked” us politely, “Please come with me to the police quarters located in the train station.”

The Uzbeki managed to quickly put away the money; I don’t know whether the policeman noticed the money that had exchanged hands or not. In any case, our fear at the moment was indescribable. We tried to remain calm and expressionless, withholding the trepidation we felt within.

At the police station we were told to sit down and we were asked where we were coming from and where we were going. They asked for our passports and I thought that maybe the Uzbeki would show them documentation that he was the superintendent of the jail in Tashkent and they would leave us alone. But he just handed over his passport and they continued asking questions.

Then they called him into an inner room and I remained alone in the outer room. My heart pounded and I could taste fear on my tongue. After a long time, which seemed to me like an eternity, they released us.

Afterwards, the Uzbeki told me that they had told him that they were looking for someone who resembled me. Furthermore, it was soon after my father-in-law passed away, and I decide that it was an opportune time to begin growing a beard. My unusual appearance apparently aroused their suspicion.

After this incident, the friend of the Uzbeki was afraid to have anything to do with me, so this plan was shelved.