Their mission was an unprecedented success. From the moment they arrived in Alma Ata, located in the Republic of Kazakhstan, to the moment they boarded the Airplane on their way back home.
The Rebbe’s father Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, OB”M, was arrested on the ninth of Nisan 1939 and exiled by the Russian communist for spreading Yiddishkeit. The sentence was for five years of exile in the remote village of Chilli, Kazakhstan, some eighteen hours by car from Alma Ata.
Chilli routinely reaches an unbeareble heat of 115° and higher during many months of the year. The combination of the unrelenting grueling heat, combined with mosquitos and muddy unpaved roads create an Indescribable torturous environment.
After completing five horrific years in Chilli, the Rebbe’s father together with Rebbetzin Chana who voluntarily joined her husband in exile, finally arrived to Alma Ata. The then capital city of Kazakhstan which had a small Lubavitch community.
Sadly, less than four months after his freedom and arrival to Alma Ata, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Histalkus happened in his home located on Linia 7 apartment 1 in Alma Ata.
The date was the 20th of Av 1944.
68 years later, under the leadership of the Rebbe’s Shliach and Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan, Rabbi Yeshaye Cohen, an annual summer Yeshiva Oholei Levi Yitzchak was established in Alma Ata to honor the Rebbe’s father.
It was the heartfelt caring and initiative of two philanthropist, Avi Shaulson from Florida and Shmuel Stern from Crown Heights who undertook to establish and sponsor the annual summer Yeshiva in honor of the Rebbe’s father.
Senior Shliach Rabbi Yeshaya Cohen set the tone for the students at a Farbrengen, inspiring the students to internalize “Vu men shteit un far vemen men shteit.” To realize “where we are standing and in front of whom we are standing”.
The excelling students were hand-picked to represent 14 Chabad schools from across Israel.
Immediately upon their early morning arrival, after a long exhausting flight to Asia, the students began their first morning Chassidus learning session at the majestic Chabad House campus in Alma Ata.
The Chabad House is located a short walking distance and on the same Boulevard as the cemetery where Rabbi Levi Yitzchack’s Ohel is located.
Without wasting a minute of their daily schedule, the students immersed themselves in prayer, Torah study and Mivtzoim.
A special emphasis was placed on the Torah study which was written by the Rebbe’s father during his years in exile in Kazakhstan.
The Rebbe often described in great detail how his mother Rebbetzin Chana, whose Yohrtzeit us the 6th of Tishrei, would gather herbs with self-sacrifice and make ink for her husband so he could write his holy Torah thoughts.
The students spent part of their day learning with local Jews, going on Mivtzoim, and bringing a sense of Chassidic warmth, vitality and enthusiasm to the Jewish local community.
The Kiddush Hashem which the students made, left an inspiring and indelible mark on the community.
The students successfully demonstrated how one can be a happy observant Jew even in today’s modern age.
The love, honor and respect for the Rebbe’s father was palpable in every moment of the students’ day.
The students proved that the ultimate winner against the communist regime is the Rebbe’s father!
Despite all the persecution, pain and suffering, the spirit of Yiddishkeit shines brightly in Alma Ata.
It is with the power and merit of the self-sacrifice of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, that Judaism flourishes once again in multiple Chabad Houses across the republic of Kazakhstan.
Led by a team of devoted Shluchim of the Rebbe, every Jew in Kazakhstan has a home. A Chabad House. A place where each and every Jew is welcomed and embraced with unconditional love.
A highlight for the students was when the students traveled to the train station where Rabbi Levi Yitzchak arrived to Alma Ata on Tu B’shvat winter 1940.
After studying passages of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s Torah, the students danced in the center of train station for all to see.
They enthusiastically sang the famous Hakofos song of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak.
The victorious sound of the students singing and dancing on the Communist built “Vakzal” train station platform, with intense joy, Chassidic pride, undoubtedly rose and penetrated the heavens.
The emotions of the students were visible.
Grandchildren who came to celebrate their grandfather’s victory.
The night of Chof Av, Rabbi Moshe Orenstein , Rosh Yeshiva of Chabad in Netanya Israel, who spends much time all year teaching the his students of the Torah of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak.
Rabbi Orenstein inspired the students with an incredibly uplifting Farbrengen, in a tent which was put up in close proximity to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s Ohel.
Throughout the night of Chof Av it was heartwarming and inspiring to see many Jews from around the world who flew to Alma Ata even for just a few hours, to honor and to pray at the Ohel of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak.
Most international flights depart the Alma Ata airport in the early hours of the morning between 4 and 7 AM.
On the day of Chof Av, the students joined the large community delegation who attended the prayer service at Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s Ohel.
Singing the songs of each of the Chabad Rabeyim, reading the Pan on behalf of the entire community and praying at the holy Ohel on this holy special day, touched the depths of the soul of each of the students.
Cantor Berele Zaltzman masterfully performed and entertained the community with songs in Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish and heartwarming stories and his memories of Yiddishkeit under the brutal Soviet communist regime.
The concert celebrated the 18th anniversary since the opening of the Alma Ata Chabad House Campus.
An Indescribable emotional moment was when the students arrived to Linia 7, in close proximity to the home where Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s holy soul departed on the 20th of Av summer 1944.
Even a heart of stone would melt. Knowing the inhumane torture, suffering and pain which Rabbi Levi Yitzchak endured until his final moments.
The Zchus of being able to pray Mincha at the same location. To ask Hashem to bring about the revelation of Moshiach now.
To recite the letters of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s holy name in Chapter 119 of Tehilim and studying Mishnayes wich begin with the letters of his holy name. Triumphantly singing with a bit of a choked voice the song of Reb Levik’s Hakofos Nigun.
To pray the evening prayer of Ma’ariv in the backyard, surrounded by the trees, near the porch where Rabbi Levi Yitzchak would sit in the evenings for fresh air. More than a few tears were seen on the faces if the students at those holy unforgettable moments.
The honor, deep love and respect of the students for Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, a Torah giant and courageous Jewish leader, the Rebbe’s father, inspired the entire community.
The Shabbos Mevorchim Elul Farbrengen with Rabbi Velvl Butman, head Shliach to Westchester County New York, the inspiring stories and songs. The atmosphere of genuine heartfelt Ahavas Yisroel and spirited Chassidic dancing.
Rabbi Elchonon Cohen treated the students to a live demonstration of Kosher Shchita which he volunteers all year round in order to provide Kosher meat for the Kazakhstan Jewish community.
Especially remarkable is the recently established manufacturing plant of more than 18 types of Glatt Kosher meats, salamis and cold cuts.
All with Chabad Lubavitch Hashgocho and Kosher certification of the Rebbe’s Shliach to Kazakhstan and it’s Chief Rabbi Yeshaye Cohen.
Rabbi Mordechei Cohen, the Rosh Yeshiva, Invested countless hours in preparing, inspiring and teaching the students , including the mystical Kabbalistic Torah of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak.
Rabbi Betzelel Lifshitz successfully organized the arrangements including all permits with the authorities.
Rabbi Shmaryahu Butman prepared a detailed schedule for every moment of the students being in Kazakhstan. His innovative programming, games, learning, teaching and trip-outings and his 24/7 hands on dedication, all helped to create a most successful Yeshiva experience.
Rabbi Gavriel Ben Moshe and his staff made sure that the students had plenty of fresh, healthy and delicious meals.
The President of the Jewish community Mr. Albert Shimoni expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the students on behalf of the community for the dedication and inspiration which the students gave each member of the community.
The excelling students represented the following 14 Chabad schools throughout Israel:
Or Yehuda, Elad, Bnei Brak, Kfar Chabad, Lud, Migdal Ha’emek, Nachlas Har Chabad, Natanya, Kiryat Gat Yeshiva Ketana, Kiryat Gat Yeshiva Gedola, Rechovot, Cheider Yiddish Beitar Ilit, Cheider Yiddish Kfar Chabad, Talmud Torah Chabad Natanya.