In the early 1940s, when I was about fifteen or sixteen, my family moved from Coney Island to Crown Heights. We didn’t move to Crown Heights because it was the seat of Chabad-Lubavitch—we were not Lubavitch, so that is not what attracted us. In the early 1940s, when I was about fifteen or sixteen, my family moved from Coney Island to Crown Heights As a matter of fact, there were very few Lubavitchers in Crown Heights at that time, but the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, lived there, and he had just established his headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway.

Once we were living in the neighborhood, for one reason or another, my father took a liking to the Lubavitchers, and he began to attend prayer services at 770. At that time, I was enrolled in Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, but when I heard that a yeshivah for my age group was about to open at Lubavitch, I decided that I wanted to enroll.

But my father had misgivings about this. He said, “You’re an American kid; you’re not going to succeed in a chassidic yeshivah. It’s not like the yeshivahs you’re used to—it’s a European yeshivah, not an American yeshivah.”

I said, “Well, they speak Yiddish at Torah Vodaas, and they’ll speak Yiddish at the Lubavitch yeshivah.”

My father said, “If you want to go, it’s okay with me—just be prepared that you may find it unpleasant.” But I didn’t find it unpleasant at all.

Meanwhile, the minyan my father attended at the Lubavitch shul had expanded to include other men who were not chassidim. The minyan my father attended at the Lubavitch shul had expanded to include other men who were not chassidimMy father came to know these people because they would all sit down to make a kiddush together after Shabbos prayers. This was not a Lubavitch custom—the Lubavitchers went home, but these men stayed behind.

And that brings me to a story I want to tell about the Rebbe—whom at that time we knew as Ramash, an acronym for Rabbi Menachem [Mendel] Schneerson—and his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak.

In the summer of 1945 the Previous Rebbe was spending time in Morristown, New Jersey, and my father—because he had a car—was asked to drive some chassidim there. When they arrived, my father stayed in the car waiting for them to complete their business, but the Previous Rebbe asked if he might like to come in.

My father was not going to pass up an audience with the Rebbe, and he went in.

When the Previous Rebbe asked him, “What can I do for you?” my father took that opportunity to voice a complaint. He said, “Please tell the chassidim to stop ostracizing us.”The Rebbe was shocked. “My chassidim do that?! How so?”

The Rebbe was shocked. “My chassidim do that?! How so?”

“Well, after Shabbos prayers we make a kiddush,” my father replied. “But the chassidim don’t participate; they just go home, and that makes us feel like we’re outsiders.”

When he heard that, the Rebbe smiled, and he gave my father three dollars. He said, “Tell my chassidim that I gave you money for the kiddush, and they’ll make a kiddush with you.”

My father put those three dollars to good use—he gave one dollar to Berel Chaskind, who agreed to supply cake for the kiddush for a whole year; he gave another to someone else, Shlomo Palmer, who agreed to provide l’chaim for the whole year; and he himself kept the third dollar and bought herring for the whole year.

Having My father then asked Ramash—the future Rebbe—to please say a few words of Torah at the kiddush.arranged everything, my father then asked Ramash—the future Rebbe—to please say a few words of Torah at the kiddush. But he refused. He was very quiet and kept to himself. My father didn’t let go. He said, “You must do it. Your father-in-law, the Rebbe, gave us three dollars, and he said this will bring us cooperation from all the chassidim, so you have to cooperate too.”

Finally, Ramash agreed to join the kiddush, where he would teach Torah once a month, on Shabbos Mevarchim, the Shabbos before the new month.

The first time he did it, he taught a mishnah of Rabbi Meir. I think he may have done it in honor of my father, whose name was Meir. He spoke for two hours without stopping. He cried twice during his talk, though we didn’t understand why.

And from then on, every Shabbos Mevarchim, he would not only teach, but would also lead the gathering in song.

Some years later, after Rabbi Menachem Mendel became the Rebbe, he asked me, “Why don’t I see you at thefarbrengens anymore?” So I said, “Because I’m more concerned with how the Rebbe is going to respond to my l’chaim than I am with anything else. And I don’t think that is a good reason to go to a farbrengen.”

I was owning up that when I did come to the farbrengens, I came to be able to brag about what he said to me, because he had a clever way of responding to each person.

My admission brought a big smile to his face, and he said, “It’s nice that you’re being honest and open, but you should come to the farbrengens anyway.”When I was in my thirties, the Rebbe asked me about my plans for marriage.

On another occasion—this was in the mid-1950s, when I was in my thirties already—he asked me about my plans for marriage.

“I haven’t found the right lady yet,” I replied. But he must have sensed that I was being very choosy and passing up many appropriate marriage partners. So I remember him saying to me, “You have to look at getting married pretty much like learning how to swim. You can’t learn how to swim just by reading a book on swimming, or by standing on the side of the pool—you learn to swim by jumping in the water. And that’s how you should go about getting married. If you want to get married, you can’t just spend time thinking about it too much—you have to actually find a woman and get married.”

And I’d just like to say that whenever he gave me advice—even though I was not observant—he always made me feel that he was concerned about me. He was always caring, and he never admonished me in any way or made demands. He was just very, very warm to me, and I shall never forget it.