By COLlive reporter
A book recounting the riveting tales of the Chassidic underground in Samarkand, during Soviet times, was translated to English and Russian from the original Hebrew.
The 738 page “Samarkand – The Underground With A Far-Reaching Impact” describes in detail the fascinating story of self-sacrifice of the Chassidic underground that operated in the Soviet Union from the 1940s through the 70s.
It was authored by Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman who was born in Kharkov in 1939. During the Second World War, his family fled to Uzbekistan’s second-largest city and he got involved in the underground Chamah organization at the age of 16.
Written in a captivating manner, the book transports the reader to times gone by, painting a picture of legendary heroes who helped perpetuate and preserve Torah study under the constant threat of arrest by the KGB.
It tells of the long and hard-fought victory to preserve the Jewish identity, upholding Judaism during the rule of communist terror. This is the story of a small group of Chasidim who bravely fought the mighty, brutal soviet regime and came out victorious.
The Hebrew version captured the attention of thousands of readers, and was met with great acclaim, becoming a bestseller. Many Chabad parents have been reading its stories to their children, as the Rebbe suggested to be done in 5785.
“There are 3 ways one can work on bringing others closer to Torah and Judaism: By learning Mussar with him; by learning Chassidus with him; and another way is by recounting the tremendous sacrifice of the Jews living behind the Iron Curtain [to maintain Jewish life there],” the Rebbe said. “It is easy to understand that is the third way that leads to the best results with regards to bring Jewish people closer to the Torah and to Judaism.”
Indeed, the Rebbe’s choizer and Chassidic scholar, Rabbi Yoel Kahn has recommended the book be read by every youngster. “In my opinion, it’s important to circulate the book among the young generation in particular,” he said.
The late Tzfas Shliach and Mashpia Rabbi Aaron Lazer Ceitlin commented about the book that “once I started reading ‘Samarkand’, I just couldn’t stop. The author made me feel as if I was actually in Samarkand.”
Other figures who have praised the book are Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, former refusenik Natan Sharansky, and Rabbi Berel Levine, Director of the Agudas Chassidei Chabad Library in Brooklyn.
The book is available for purchase at Kehot or Amazon.com.