By COLlive staff
The students of Cheder Menachem of Moscow went on a special graduation trip this year. In preparation for their switch from Cheder to Yeshiva Ktana (Mesivta), the boys were given a unique spiritually and physically recharging experience by the dedicated staff of Cheder Menachem, founded Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar.
After careful advance preparation, the students and teachers embarked on a trip to the city of Kostroma, which they reached after a night’s train ride on the world’s longest train line. For two days the students visited the historical Chassidic sites in this pastoral city on the banks of the Volga River, which had previously served as a city of exile for the opponents of the Czarist and the Communist regime.
On Sunday, Gimmel Tammuz, after 19 days of sitting in prison and being sentenced to death, the Frierdiker Rebbe was exiled to the city of Kostroma, where few Jews lived.
His daughter, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson joined him in this exile, as well as his son-in-law Rabbi Shmaryahu Gurarie, and the esteemed chossid R’ Eliyahu Chaim Althaus. A few days earlier, the chossid R’ Michoel Dworkin arrived in Kostroma in order to prepare the city for the Rebbe’s arrival, and even established a Cheder there.
Even after the Frierdiker Rebbe arrived in the city of exile, the committee that dealt with his rescue decided to continue with the attempts and efforts for his complete release, and to this end they enlisted the help of Ms. Fishkova, who appealed to the heads of the Soviet government to release the Frierdiker Rebbe.
When the Frierdiker Rebbe arrived in Kostroma, he was commanded to appear each Tuesday in the offices of the NKVD. This week, ninety-four years ago, on Yud Beis Tammuz 5687, when he came for his weekly appearance, he was told that he need not appear anymore, since they have received orders to release him.
Since that day was a holiday in Kostroma, the Rebbe had to wait until the following day in order to receive an official certificate of his release. When the Rebbe finally received the long-awaited document, many people gathered in his home, where he said before them a Chassidic Maamar beginning with the words “Boruch hagomel lechayovim tovos”.
Today, Rabbi Nissan Rupo serves as the shliach and rabbi of the city. In coordination with the director of Moscow’s educational institutions, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Lipsker, the Cheder principal Rabbi Avraham Gewirtz, and the class mechanech Rabbi Avraham Zaks, Rabbi Rupo led the students to the home of the shochet, where the Frierdiker Rebbe lived at that time, to the offices of the NKVD, and other various fascinating landmarks, all of which instilled in the students an understanding of the great mesirus nefesh that the Rebbe had, as well as the great privilege they have serving as the Rebbe’s shluchim in Russia’s capital.
During the two-day trip, the students davened and learned in the old shul standing in the city center, and the shliach Rabbi Rupo arranged for the boys to do mivtzoim with the local Jews, laying tefillin, putting up mezuzos, learning with them and more.
This Chassidic trip paved the way for the journey awaiting the students into their upcoming years of learning in Yeshiva Ktana, and then Yeshiva Gedola of Moscow, years that will build them up both spiritually and physically as true Chassidim serving Hashem.