The original photograph of the Rebbe Rayatz and his son-in-law Rabbi Shemaryahu Gurary standing on the steps of the White House, on the day of their meeting with President Herbert Hoover was recently discovered.
Several photos of that visit has been seen by the public. A blurry and cropped version of this photo has been available as well.
It is now presented at the Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem alongside a US flag that was received by the Rebbe from President Hoover.
The large American flag contains only 48 white stars, as it was before Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union. The items will be for an auction next week at Kedem.
Some two years after his release from the Soviet prison and settling in Riga, Rebbe Rayatz made a trip to the United States. Towards the end of the trip, which lasted for close to a year (Elul 1929-Tammuz 1930), the Rebbe Rayatz met with Hoover in the White House (on 14th Tammuz).
During their meeting, the Rebbe thanked the president for the freedom of religion given to American Jewry and for the help his government provides to Jews throughout the world.
The Rebbe came to the United States accompanied with his son-in-law Rabbi Shemaryahu Gurary (the Rashag), his uncle Rabbi Moshe Horenstein (son-in-law of the Maharash), and Rabbi Mordechai Dubin (a Chabad Chassid, prominent communal activist in Europe, member of the Latvian parliament instrumental in attaining the Rayatz’s release from prison and exit from Russia).
The objective of the trip was to raise awareness of the plight of Soviet Jews and to encourage and strengthen American Jewry.
Wherever he went, the Rebbe Rayatz campaigned to strengthen and fortify Torah observance, and propagandized for Shabbat observance, laying tefillin and establishing Torah classes. He founded Agudas Chassidei Chabad and women’s societies to promote Taharat HaMishpacha. On Shabbat, he would hold gatherings and deliver Chassidic teachings, and on weekdays, he would convene various meetings and receive people in private audiences.
The Rebbe ended his visit on Thursday, 21st Tammuz 1930. He set sail from the port of New York on SS Bremen and reached Berlin on 27th Tammuz. After spending several weeks in the Marienbad health spa, the Rebbe returned in the middle of Elul 1930 to his home in Riga.
In 1933, the Rebbe Rayatz moved to Warsaw and in 1935, settled in Otwosk. Several days after WWII broke out (Elul 1939), the Rayatz returned to Warsaw. During these difficult times, he was compelled to flee from one house to another in fear of raids and bombings, and false rumors circulated that he had been arrested and executed by the Germans.
With the intervention of the American government and the help of several German officers, the Rayatz succeeded in escaping Warsaw, together with some twenty family members and associates, and at the end of Adar 1940, he left occupied Europe and set sail on the Drottningholm from the port of Gothenburg, Sweden, for America.
The Rebbe Rayatz took with him the present American flag, which he had received a decade earlier at his meeting with the President of the United States, and instructed to wave it when the ship left Europe, and when they reached America, near the Statue of Liberty.