The First Teachers
REB GECHE ZTZ"L (GETZL; GENNADY VILENSKY) (1905-1989)
|Reb Geche, Moscow, the 70-ies|
Photography by Nathan Bar (Brusovani)
Reb Geche was a Rabbi's son. He received a strong Jewish education but did not occupy any official post. He was, however, one of the few Rabbis in the USSR who dealt with conversion (giyur) that was recognized by the Chief Rabbinate in Israel. Reb Geche personally knew the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe and corresponded with him. In his room, which was part of a communal apartment in the Frunzensky Embankment, he hid the money needed for organizing underground Jewish life in the entire USSR - yeshivas, minyans, and circumcisions (brit mila). In the 1980s Reb Geche was the pillar of the community that gathered in the Minor Hall of the Choral Synagogue and he headed the underground Rabbinical Court. Being a scholar and an ardent follower of religious laws, he greatly influenced those Jews who were returning to Jewish life and traditions (baalei teshuva) к еврейской традиции. Образ жизни настоящего хасида - особенно усердного в соблюдении предписаний иудаизма, помощь, которую он оказывал всем нуждающимся, его кипучая энергия снискали ему необыкновенную популярность и уважение не только в Москве и России, но и среди религиозных евреев Израиля и США, реб Гече заслуженно называли - «московским праведником».
Taken from "The Revival of Jewish Religious Life in Moscow in the 1970s-80s / Pictures and Memoirs,” by M. Kara-Ivanov and E. Matlin.
REB AVR MILUMLER ZTZ"L (1903-1987)
|Reb Avrum, Moscow, the 70-ies|
Born in Dvinsk (now Daugavpils, Latvia), Reb Miller learned in Radin (Belarus) with the Chofetz Chayim, who regarded him with great esteem. He was one of the last Torah scholars who survived the Soviet regime, and was send to the Stalin camps from which he miraculously survived. Reb Miller was an outstanding Torah Scholar and a source of inspiration to an entire generation of young Jews who took upon themselves a religious way of life in the 1970s and 1980s. Reb Miller taught Talmud daily in Moscow's Choral Synagogue and at his home. Defying the authorities' strict ban, he usually spoke Russian, and not Yiddish, to be understood by the young people. Reb Miller's outstanding bravery, modesty and broad knowledge attracted many pupils.
REB MOTL LIVSHETZ
|Reb Motl, Moscow, the 70-ies.|
Born in 1916 in the Ukraine, Reb Livshetz started learning Torah in a Kiev heder. After the destruction of Jewish life by the Soviet authorities, when the Lubavitch Chassid's organized underground synagogues and yeshivas, he joined Chabad and continued to learn Torah and Chassidism. In 1939 he was arrested for corresponding with the "Polish Spy" - the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe. Reb Livshetz worked in tree felling and was punished for attempting to keep Shabbat. While working under freezing conditions, his finger froze and was amputated without anesthesia. In 1945 Reb Livshetz was freed and returned to Kiev. There he learned that his parent's family had been killed at Babi Yar. He moved to Moscow and there began working as a Mohel and Shochet, and in Moscow's Choral Synagogue. In 1992 Reb Livshetz moved to New York, to join his daughter and family. His selfless work and ardent adherence to Jewish tradition greatly influenced the young Jewish people who were striving to acquire a religious way of life. (Taken from Arye Katzin's article published in 2009.)