In the middle of the ‘60s, the Soviets issued a number of exit visas and many Chassidim in Moscow, Tashkent and Samarkand were given permission to leave. It seemed that perhaps a new, brighter era had dawned. But then the Six Day War broke out; Diplomatic relations between Israel and the Soviet Union were broken off and the Soviets stopped issuing exit visas.

In the meantime, due to the miraculous victory of the war, there was a whirlwind of spiritual arousal among Russian Jewry. Many Jews, who for many years had been members of the communist party and whose Judaism had been dormant, woke up suddenly with a longing to travel to Eretz Yisrael.

Two years went by and there was another crack in the resilient iron curtain. The OVIR offices once again began issuing visas. At the same time, the Jewish Agency began a campaign to send visas to Jews in Russia. They would locate families in Israel with the same family name as a family in Russia and would send the Russian family an invitation so the families could unite.

A widespread movement began in which many Jews received visas and asked for permission to emigrate. There were sporadic demonstrations in which Jews called on the authorities to allow them to leave for Israel. The demonstrators were often arrested, but unlike the ‘30s and ‘50s, when arrests ended with sentences of twenty-five years in Siberia, the arrests of the ‘60s lasted only days. Then the people were released after being warned not to repeat their actions. Only very few were held for months or years for various charges.

In Moscow, a group of famous Jews, doctors and scientists, gathered in the thousands on Simchas Torah in the area around the main shul on Archipova Street to demonstrate their Jewishness and their desire to be freed from the Soviet Union. Archipova Street is a very small road with few cars passing through, but the police ordered large trucks to drive through the street and force the Jews to leave. The protesters lay down on the road and didn’t allow the trucks to pass through. The police were forced to drag the people away from the streets. It was a wild and riotous scene. Many demonstrators were arrested but were released after several days.

We listened to the “Kol Tzion LaGola” (Voice of Zion to the Exile) on the radio, which was broadcasted from Israel, and we heard reports about families who had received visas and had left for Israel. At first it was a few from one city and a few from another city, but then we began to hear reports about dozens who left in one week, then about dozens in a day. There were times that an entire planeload of emigrants from Russia landed in Israel. These reports breathed new life into us, and we began to hope that the day would soon come when we, too, would receive permission to leave Russia.

In 1968-9, people in Samarkand and Tashkent once again began receiving exit visas. For example, my father and brother-in-law, R. Eliyahu Mishulovin, left in Shevat 5729. The Mishulovin family left then as well. R. Shimshon Cohen and his mother left after submitting a request for the first time. The family of R. Dovid Gurewitz, the Lepkivkers and others left Tashkent as well.