Whenever my husband found an opportunity to speak publicly [on Jewish themes], he utilized it. Here is an example:
A teenage boy named Mitya Gurary1 began frequenting our home. His father was employed in our city at the business of his relatives, the Gurary family. When Mitya first visited us, he wasn’t religious and was studying at the local high school. He possessed a very sincere and refined character.
After becoming acquainted with our sons, Mitya began attending my husband’s Chasidic discourses. Gradually he became very devoted and attached to this philosophy and way of life. He became Shabbos observant and G‑d-fearing in every respect.
Even before his matriculation, his fellow students and teacher noticed that he had become more religious, and started persecuting him. As a result, it became difficult for him to be accepted into the university, and many obstacles were laid in his path. The dean of the university once told him, “Let Schneerson help you; we can’t help you.”
When it came to a point that they couldn’t reject him any longer, he was finally accepted. For his winter break, however, he was sent to work at a kolkhoz (collective farm). Every day letters from him arrived at our home, full of queries about what was or wasn’t halachically permitted for him while there.
Sometimes he was sent into town on official errands to purchase supplies for the kolkhoz office. To make some spare cash, his fellow students who accompanied him would bring along some butter and other farm products to sell in town. Mitya, however, sought out Jews living there and inquired as to their religious needs. His briefcase was full of mezuzos, tzitzis, siddurim and alef-beis cards, which he secretly distributed in accordance with the Rav’s directives.
Openly, he pretended to be a fully committed Komsomol member He was well-liked by everyone, even the gentiles.
He would say his prayers daily wearing his tefillin, but dared not let any human being see him. Before daybreak, when most others weren’t yet awake, he would go out into the fields, and there, among the tall grain stalks, was able to conceal his short frame while reciting his prayers, covering his head tefillin with his cap.
His superiors were very pleased with his work. As a reward, he was told to stay at the “Little Red Corner,” from where he was expected to spread the cultural light to the villagers.
When it was Chanukah, he received instructions from my husband on how to manage with the Chanukah lights, and everything worked out well.
That week, however, the central office in the city sent in an inspector, who happened to be Jewish, to check on the work at the kolkhoz. He arrived around midnight, and when he visited the “Little Red Corner,” found the Chanukah lights still burning. Although they were comprised of oil burning inside hollowed out potatoes, he, as a Jew, immediately understood what they were.
Of course, as was their “holy custom,” it was immediately reported to the Komsomol, and a few days later Mitya was dismissed from the job.
He continued his studies with similar acts of self-sacrifice for even the slightest halachic detail, even if only of rabbinic origin. On the High Holidays, he would pray at our home so that his neighbors wouldn’t notice his participation in prayer services. In the morning he would report to the university to register his attendance before coming to us.
For the full diary entry, please visit: http://www.chabad.org/1837176