The Bris in Siberia

Peretz Lein was born in Siberia. His father, R’ Moshe Lein, z’l, was a descendent of the famous chassid of the Tzemach Tzedek, Reb Peretz Chein* z’l. R’ Moshe was arrested by the communist in 1938 and remained imprisoned for ten years. His ‘crime’ was that he was a Lubavitcher chassid keeping Torah and mitzvot.

Miraculously, the time he spent in Russian jail saved his life during WWII. When he was released, he made his way to Tashkent where a Chabad Chassidic community existed, hoping to settle down and stay out of the way of the authorities.

Here he married Gita Galperin in 1948. A short few months later, he was again arrested, by order of the notorious anti-Semite leader of the USSR, Stalin, may his name be erased. He was sentenced to life in exile and sent to a backward village in Siberia. This time the circumstances were not as harsh as the first imprisonment. His family was permitted to join him. His young wife joined her husband and together they did their best to keep the Torah and mitzvot under harsh circumstances.

A year later, a daughter was born to them, followed a few years later by a son.

The question which now weighed heavily on the parent’s heart was how were they to circumcise their son?? There was absolutely no mohel in the vicinity and even if there was one it would be extremely dangerous for him to travel to a place of exile. In fact, the last Mohel living in these areas was R’ Yaakov Yosef Raskin** z’l. He settled in Alma Ata and helped care for the Rebbe’s father, Reb Levik zt’l during the last years of his life (for which the Rebbe was very grateful to him). He and his family managed to escape Russia in 1948, shortly after the war ended and they settled in Israel.

The young father, Moshe, was very worried about the situation, hoping against hope that somehow, he could bring his son into the covenant of our Father Avraham. One day, he met a Jewish doctor who had been exiled to the same city.  He asked him if he would do it, but the doctor did not want to risk his life. He was scheduled to be released shortly and was not interested in jeopardizing his chances of release. But a Chabad chassid does not relent when a mitzvah comes his way. Reb Moshe tried again and again. Finally, the doctor agreed to do it in absolute secrecy. But where do you find implements with which to do the brit?

The doctor informed R’ Moshe that he did not have any with him. R’ Moshe assured him that he need not worry. He will provide him with whatever is needed. On the given day, the Jewish doctor arrived. R’ Moshe handed him a scissors which he broke in half. Carefully the doctor sterilized the sharp edge. With the shutters to their small apartment closed tight and in the presence of only the parents, young Peretz, received a brit milah and was entered into the covenant of our People, and was given his Jewish name.

Peretz remained with his parents in Siberia until he was three years old. In 1953, mysteriously, Stalin died*** and a sigh of relief swept through all of Russia. Thousands of prisoners were released among them many who were Jewish.  It took another two years to complete all the bureaucratic hurdles before Moshe and Gita and their young daughter and son returned to live in Tashkent where a clandestine Chabad community existed. Here, Gita’s father, R’ Shmuel Galperin checked the brit milah of his young grandson and assured the parents that it was fine and done properly. Soon they were joined by another baby sister.  The couple raised their children to be proud Chassidic Jews, even though they had to be very careful and keep it secret.

Thank G-d, in 1971, the family managed to leave Russia, a Chassidic family in all respects. Today, Peretz and his wife, Chaya Lein, live in Brooklyn, New York. They take great pride that many of their progeny are Shluchim of the Rebbe, helping Jews connect to their heritage in peace and prosperity.

As heard from Peretz Lein, and his grandson, Moshe Lein (our grandson and administrator of the melavemalkastories.com blog)

*Peretz Chein, z’l – 5557- 5643 a devout chasid of the Mitteler Rebbe and the Tzemach Tzedek and the Rebbe Maharash. He was a Rabbi in the cities of Bashenkovitz, then Nevel and finally Tchernigov. He lived to see six Chabad Rebbes – from the Alter Rebbe to the Previous Rebbe (when he was a baby). He had four sons. One of them, Moshe, became Moshe Lein and this family name was passed on to his progeny.

**Reb Yaakov Yosef Raskin, z’l (1901-1986) a true chassid and mohel who traveled far and wide to secretly bring Jewish baby boys into the covenant of Avraham Avinu, during the communist regime. He and his family managed to escape through the efforts of his famous sister, known as the Mumeh Sarah z’l,  (our grandmother) who spearheaded the effort to save as many Jews as possible to leave Russia after the war.

***At a historic Purim farbrengen in 1953, the Rebbe spoke heartfelt words about the dire situation in which Russian Jewry found themselves under the dictatorship of Stalin, may his name be erased. He told a story about a chasid who called out “Hu-rah!!” in reference to voting in an election at that time by the behest of the Rebbe. All the people standing around were shouting “Hurray”; yet this simple chassid who did not understand what was going on, used the Hebrew words which sounded similar. In Hebrew, the words mean – “He is bad!” The crowd at the farbrengen picked up on the Rebbe’s cue and began chanting “HU – RAH! HU – RAH!” over and over again. The mood was electrifying with everyone understanding that the Rebbe was seeing things which they could not; and realizing that something monumental was taking place. Within the next couple of days, the news from Russia trickled out that the evil dictator had died on Purim!

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