Rabbi Lazar Talks About Naama Issachar Release

Shloime Zionce of Ami Magazine sat down with Rabbi Berel Lazar to talk about 70 years of the Rebbe’s leadership and the recent release of Naama Issachar.

By Shloime Zionce for Ami Magazine

Life works in mysterious ways. As this week marks 70 years since the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt”l, took over the mantle of leadership after the passing of his father-in-law, Rav Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, zt”l, I had planned on speaking with Rabbi Berel Lazar about it. But then Naama Issachar, the 26-year-old American-Israeli woman who had been jailed in Russia on drug charges, was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin. Videos of Naama’s mother, Mrs. Yaffa Issachar, meeting with Rabbi Lazar and thanking him for helping free her daughter went viral on social media. 

As many of you know, last April Naama was arrested for possession of nine grams of marijuana during a stopover in Moscow while she was en route from India to Israel. Although marijuana is illegal in Israel, possession of less than 15 grams for personal use has been decriminalized. Since her daughter’s arrest, Naama’s mother had been working tirelessly to draw attention to her daughter’s plight. Upon hearing the news of her release, I immediately reached out to Rabbi Lazar in Moscow for more details, and he agreed to speak to Ami. I was told by his staff that he wouldn’t have much time to talk and would only be available for between four and seven minutes. But when I asked him directly how much time we could talk he replied, “As much time as you need.” Not surprisingly, I did need lots of time, and we ended up talking on the phone for an hour and ten minutes. 

Speaking to Rabbi Berel Lazar is an enjoyable experience. He’s a great conversationalist, and he’s very easy-going and down-to-earth. He has an endless supply of hair-raising tales to share, many of which happened to him personally. After all, serving as chief rabbi of Russia cannot be a boring job. When you hang up the phone, all you can say is “Wow!” Google his name and you’ll get results ranging from photos of him meeting with world leaders to wild rumors and conspiracy theories. Known to many as “Putin’s rabbi,” some of the issues with which he deals require the skills of a statesman. He humbly travels around the globe, silently working his way through the halls of power, tirelessly pushing to make the world a better place. During my numerous conversations with him, I’ve noticed that his every word is measured, and for every story he shares, I know that there are least ten others he can never reveal because there is too much at stake. Such is the life of Rabbi Berel Lazar.

“Mazel tov on the release of Naama Issachar,” I tell him as we begin our conversation. “Can you tell me how this whole thing began?”

“It actually started a couple of days before Pesach, when we learned that a Jewish woman had been arrested at the airport. I’m sure it happens elsewhere too, but lately we’re seeing this more and more in Russia. It’s mainly Israelis who get stuck, and the first thing they do is call Chabad. We immediately sent someone to visit her, and we got lawyers for her. We also helped her mother come to Moscow, and she was here for the Seder. We did whatever we could to help. In the beginning everything looked good. It didn’t seem like it would be difficult to get her out, but the situation soon became very complicated. All of a sudden there were a lot of external factors at play, and the next thing we knew she had been sentenced to seven and a half years in jail. I don’t want to point any fingers or say that so-and-so made a mistake, but this wasn’t something that normally happens. It was a very unique situation. Someone who is found with such a miniscule amount of drugs on a stopover usually doesn’t receive such a harsh sentence. But, baruch Hashem, efforts were made and today we are celebrating her release.”

“Can you comment on what caused the situation to deteriorate?”

“No, I’m sorry. I can’t do that.”

“Do you think that Israelis are being specifically targeted?”

“No. Absolutely not. First of all, these days Russia and Israel have a very good relationship across the board: economically, militarily, culturally and politically. President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu also have an excellent personal relationship. President Putin’s visit to Israel last week is a case in point. There is no reason to even think along those lines. Not only wasn’t Naama targeted because she’s Israeli, but I would argue the opposite. Even though she is Israeli, things somehow managed to head in the wrong direction.”

“Could it have anything to do with the fact that she’s also an American citizen?” I inquire. 

“I already told you that I won’t comment,” he says with a chuckle.

“Did you ever bring up the matter personally with President Putin?” 

“Yes. I discussed it with him.”

“Can you share with me how that discussion went?” 

The rabbi takes a deep breath. “I think what counts is the end result. I’m sorry, but I can’t discuss everything I do in the political arena.”

“Last week, when President Putin met with Naama Issachar’s mother in Israel, he seemed to be genuinely moved. Is he an emotional person?” I ask.

“There is no question that President Putin is a very decisive leader and knows how to run the country well. At the same time, he is also very personable and can be extremely friendly. When there’s a humanitarian issue, even if it affects only one person, you can see how he genuinely wants to help make a positive change. This is a side of him that people don’t usually see, but I’ve observed it many, many times.”

“Whom would you credit for getting Naama out of prison?” I ask.

“Hashem,” he replies immediately.

“But who was doing the most hishtadlus?” 

“There were many people involved no one knows about, and no one ever will. They deserve a lot of credit, but I don’t think they want their names to be publicized,” he says. “Things are easier when they’re done quietly. Ein habrachah sholetes ela b’davar hasamuy min haayin—blessing only rests on something that is hidden from the eye, especially when it comes to the press. There was a lot going on behind the scenes, and it’s better if it stays that way. Members of the press and foreign politicians all have jobs to do, and sometimes they can be helpful. But the public only gets to see the tip of the iceberg.”

“What are your thoughts on traveling through Russia?” I ask. “A lot of people are now afraid to make a stopover. Others want to boycott the Russian national airline, Aeroflot.”

“Each and every person is free to make his own decisions about how or where to fly. In over 32 years, I have never seen anyone get arrested for no reason. If somebody is traveling with drugs or taking more than $10,000 in cash or antique artifacts out of the country, or doing anything else that is against Russian law, he will likely get into trouble. Baruch Hashem, no one is harassed or detained for traveling with his tallis and tefillin. These days, there is less anti-Semitism in Russia than anywhere else in Europe, and probably the United States as well. It’s a very safe country to walk around in as a Yid, with a yarmulke and tzitzis. People respect the Jews, and they have a friendly attitude towards Jews and Yiddishkeit in general. I really don’t think there’s anything to worry about. In fact, the only instances in which I ever experienced anti-Semitism occurred while I was traveling abroad.”

“How was this case different from that of the bachur who was found with a bullet in his suitcase?” I ask.

“It’s very simple: Naama’s case became very politically charged. Prime Minister Netanyahu got involved, and he went all the way to President Putin, so it wasn’t about an individual anymore but two countries. That’s why it became difficult to use our connections—it was an international political event, especially after the press found out about it.

“As for the bullet story, these things are unfortunately happening almost every week. There were two Israelis here who were later released and another person who was sent home under house arrest, but, baruch Hashem, every story has had a happy ending. Then there was another person who tried to take diamonds out of Russia and was arrested. A lot of young people are traveling to Thailand and India, and they’re coming back from their trips with all sorts of contraband. These things may be perfectly legal in third-world countries, but Russia is very strict about these things, and it doesn’t make a difference if you’re only visiting or in transit. I’m not sure how it works in America, but I’m pretty sure that if someone enters the United States with drugs or bullets, he’d probably also be arrested.”

“Does Chabad have a special legal department to deal with these cases?”

“We have a whole team of people that deals with Jews who are incarcerated in Russia. We’ve already opened ten shuls in different prisons, and there are rabbis going out to visit prisoners on a constant basis. Not only do they learn with them but they provide them with kosher food, organize minyanim and hold events for the Yomim Tovim. We also do the same thing for Jews who are serving in the Russian Armed Forces. Naama happened to be from Israel and America so the story got a lot of news coverage, but there are many Jewish Russian prisoners who are getting tons of help. It’s a very big operation.”

“Did you ever visit Naama in prison or meet her in person?”

“No, and there were certain reasons why I didn’t, but they’re not for this discussion. What was best for this situation was that I refrain from going, but our people were there on a constant basis and attended all of her court cases. They visited her in jail and took care of her every need. Her mother practically lived in our community for the past ten months. 

“The main person who dealt with her case was Rabbi Shea Deitsch, who runs our Shaarei Tzedek chesed institution. He was notified about her arrest by the Russian government shortly after it happened.”

“The Russian prison system seems to be very harsh.” I say. “Was she allowed to get kosher food?”

“There were times when she was able to get food that was fully kosher, but it depended on the particular prison, as she was moved around several times. We have an agreement with some of the prisons, but in other places it’s harder to do. We did our best, but obviously not everything is in our hands.”

“Do you think she was treated well?” I ask.

“I think you would have to ask her that directly, but the feedback we got was very positive. Whatever she asked for she received. I haven’t heard any complaints, but now that she’s out we’ll probably hear a little more. In general, the impression we got during visits was always very positive.”

“Was she allowed to have contact with her mother?” I ask. “I’ve heard numerous reports that sometimes she wasn’t allowed to speak with her or give her a hug.” 

“In this country, only clergymen or people from an embassy are allowed to have meetings with prisoners where all parties are in the same room. Relatives can only speak through a window, but there were times when they were allowed to converse for two or three hours at a time. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t allow for physical contact, so this was definitely one of the hardest challenges they had to go through.”

“If, G-d forbid, this situation were to repeat itself, what should people do?”

“The first thing to do is to keep it quiet, let us know, and hopefully we’ll be able to help. We learn about 90% of these cases as soon as they take place, and almost all of them end well.”

“Did you know in advance that Naama was going to be released?”

“To put it in her mother’s words, ‘I heard from Chabad that this was going to happen before I heard it from anyone else.”

“Was this a humanitarian gesture on the part of President Putin, or did Israel have to pay a heavy price for her release?”

“It was entirely humanitarian, and all of the speculation is really unfounded. I was involved enough to know that all of the stories circulating about what Israel had to give Russia are pure fantasy. The moment the attitude changed, and instead of attacking Russia, people came to an understanding that the girl did something wrong, which she admitted and decided to ask for a pardon, that’s when everything changed. That’s aside from the humanitarian aspect. Everything else you might have read in the press is just supposition. 

“I need to clarify something very important. There are numerous issues that have been under discussion between Israel and Russia for many years. Sometimes things move quickly and sometimes they’re slower, but there’s no question that there’s a lot going on. The problem is that when people see certain things taking place at the same time, they think they can put two and two together and draw conclusions. But it’s completely unfounded.”

“I’m assuming you’re referring to the church in Jerusalem that the Israelis gave to the Russians,” I say.

“That’s one of the things, but there are also others. For example, Israel recently obtained permission for Israelis to adopt children from Russia, which was a longtime project. To put this into perspective, even American couples cannot adopt Russian children. There was also the issue of Russians who emigrated to Israel being able to collect their Russian pensions, and there are many similar initiatives going on. Having been privy to many of these things, I can tell you that the relationship between Russia and Israel is very good, and we hope that it will only get better and better.”

“A lot of people, especially in the media, were saying that the Russian government was using Naama Issachar as a bargaining chip. Was there any truth to that charge?” I ask him next. 

“In all of the discussions I was involved in, I never heard that insinuation. As for whatever rumors were being circulated, I don’t think that the Russians really care about what people are saying about them. What the press says can be very different from reality. I’m not going to get into exactly what made this case get so complicated, but many mistakes were made. I’m not blaming anyone, because I don’t believe it was done on purpose. But it took a while for people to realize that the only way to solve the issue was for her to admit her guilt. If you recall, in the beginning she denied that the drugs were even hers. That’s what made the Russians so upset.”

“Do you think she’s going to be permanently traumatized by the experience?” I ask. 

“What I understood is that she would very much like to come back to Russia, having heard so much about the Moscow Jewish community from her mother. I also think she wants to meet the people who came to visit her without bars in the way.” 

“I heard that President Putin said something to Prime Minister Netanyahu right after her release about hoping she’ll get married soon and start a family,” I tell him.

“I don’t know about that specifically, but I can tell you what I told her mother last night, right after President Putin signed the pardon. Chamishi of Parshas Bo, which we learned on Thursday, contains the words ‘vayikod ha’am vayishtachavu.’ As Rashi explains, the Jewish people bowed down and gave thanks to Hashem al besuras hageulah, when they found out that they were going to be redeemed; bias ha’aretz, that they were going to Eretz Yisrael; and besuras habanim, that they were going to have children. This is the best sign that, with Hashem’s help, she will soon find a shidduch and have many children. There’s no question that President Putin was moved by the prospect of her having to wait another seven years to start a new life and do these things. I also think he was touched by how the well-being of a single Jewish girl rattled the whole country of Israel. It really says a lot about our achdus.”

“How do you fit all of these things into your busy schedule? I’m not even asking about your activities in Russia, I’m referring to your involvement on a more global level.”

“I feel that it’s my responsibility to take care of every single Yid in Russia, as well as around the world.”

“But it’s not just helping Yidden,” I say. “You do a lot of things that affect non-Jews as well.” 

“I believe that it’s important to show my appreciation and hakaras hatov for everything Russia has done for Jews over the past 20 or 30 years. Baruch Hashem, these days Jews can walk the streets and not only feel safe and comfortable, but also proud to be Jewish. Considering the fact that we are allowed to put up a menorah in Red Square right in front of the Kremlin, it’s important to show our gratitude by helping the country however we can. This also has a ripple effect, and many people who used to have negative feelings about Jews have changed their mindset. One of the many bakashos I ask of Hashem is that no harm should ever come from something I’ve done. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but when this whole Russian collusion thing came up, there were some people who blamed me. I would never get involved in such a hot potato issue! We try to steer away from political issues, which are very complicated and can also be dangerous.”

“I recently learned that you were part of a delegation President Putin sent to Iran.” I say. “Can you tell me about that?” 

Rabbi Lazar thinks for a moment. “I did visit Iran,” he concedes. “We originally tried to keep it a secret, but I guess the secret is out. What happened was that some Iranian Jews visited Russia, and we heard about the situation there. In some ways it’s not as bad as people imagine because while Iran is very much opposed to Israel, it is not against Jews per se.” 

“And after your visit, you believe that?”

“I’ve seen it with my own eyes. If the situation were so terrible, they would have already left.”

“I’m in touch with several Jews in Iran,” I tell him. “They’ve told me that they’re allowed to leave if they wish.”

“Exactly,” he replies. “We try to help them however we can. For example, it’s obviously very complicated for them to obtain certain things from Israel, like sefarim or tefillin and mezuzos or shmurah matzah or the daled minim for Sukkos, so it’s a lot easier to do it through us. It’s just like people used to help Soviet Jews in the past. Anyway, it’s a long story, but by avoiding politics we were able to make the trip, and I think it was a very good visit.” 

“How long were you there?”

“Not long enough,” he says with a chuckle. “We hope it won’t be our last visit.”

“Is there any Chabad presence in Iran? Or would you say that you are the Chabad presence in Iran?”

“I would say that there are many locals who are very connected to Chabad. The philosophy is surely there. They learn chasidus and try to help other Jews. There’s no official Chabad House with a big sign, but the people feel very connected.” 

“Would you say that Iran is under your jurisdiction, sort of like the countries of the former Soviet Union?”

“Not really, but it’s definitely a big zechus to be able to help people. To me, there’s no difference between an American-Israeli girl who’s stuck in prison in Russia or a Yid in Brazil who’s in some other dire situation. We recently assisted some Yidden in Cyprus who were in a different kind of trouble. Will I always succeed? That depends on siyata dishmaya. Sometimes we aren’t zocheh to be the shluchim to help, but we have to try. Other times, people turn to us and we wish we could help, but it’s not always possible. It also sometimes happens that after we’ve been able to help with a certain problem, all of a sudden everyone who’s in the same boat starts turning to us. For example, after the remains of Zechariah Baumel were returned to Israel, we were immediately bombarded by other cases of missing soldiers, of which there are many.”

“I know that you’ve traveled to many other interesting places, including Dubai and Qatar. Can you tell me about those visits?” I ask.

“Those visits were the initiatives of the local governments and Jewish communities. As I said, I try to help wherever I can without causing any harm. When I first came to the Soviet Union in 1987, when it was still under the Communists, we had a very clear directive from the Rebbe, which was to never do anything that could hurt even a single Jew. Sometimes you want to do something wonderful, but the ramifications of that act will cause people to suffer, so we can’t be brave on someone else’s cheshbon.”

“Why do you think you have such a good track record when it comes to international askanus?” I ask. 

“I’m not sure I’d agree with you on that. I wish I were able to do much more and help 100% of the cases that land on my desk. Most of the things you hear about me in the media aren’t what I do on a day-to-basis, which is much more ‘mundane’: bringing people closer to Yiddishkeit, giving shiurim, helping people with shalom bayis, making sure that kosher food is available, printing Jewish books and translating the Gemara and Rambam into Russian. That’s how most of my time is spent. All of the other things we’ve been discussing until now are just my ‘hobby.’ If I’m bored after midnight, that’s what I do.”

“If that’s what you do as a hobby, your job must be so much more exciting!” I say.

He laughs. “I love my job. I have the best job in the world, and I enjoy every minute of it. The people here are amazing. They have very special neshamos. We are talking about people who have completely changed their lives. When they send their kids to cheder, the children end up teaching their parents. It’s really amazing to see. We just had a big two-day conference that was attended by close to 200 representatives of Jewish communities from all over Russia. You have no idea how many new projects they are taking upon themselves; it’s just mind-boggling,” he says proudly.

“Last week, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, you did an interview with a news agency called TruNews, which many consider to be anti-Semitic. Did you know who they were when you were talking to them?” I inquire. 

“First of all, they were part of the White House press corps, and I felt that I shouldn’t deny them an interview. More importantly, though, I have never tried to avoid speaking to anti-Semites. Instead, I engage them and try to show them who we are. For example, there’s a politician in Russia named Vladmir Zhirinovsky. Once upon a time he was considered an anti-Semite. Just yesterday, he came to the Jewish Museum in Moscow with a big delegation, and I could hardly believe all the nice things he said. I wanted to pinch myself; could this be the same person? I remember years ago when someone wanted to have a moment of silence on Holocaust Day for the six million kedoshim. Zhirinovsky had immediately stood up and announced, ‘There is no way we’re going to allow this. Twenty-seven million Russians were killed in the war, and we’re not going to talk about the Jews.’ Years later, I happened to meet him and said that I’d lost my respect for him. ‘I respect the memory of the 27 million Russians who were killed,’ I told him. ‘How can you say that you won’t respect the memory of six million Jews? Over a million Jewish children were murdered only because they were Jewish!’ We had a very tough discussion, but today he has become a very good friend. I’m not saying that people can change overnight, but every small step will hopefully make a difference.”

“What are your thoughts on President Trump’s recently released ‘deal of the century’ between the Israelis and Palestinians?” I inquire.

“That news agency tried to make it sound as if I’m familiar with the whole thing inside out, when I really know very little about it. But I think it’s the first time that an American president has understood that Israel’s security is the most important thing and recognized Yerushalayim as its capital. Again, I don’t know all the details, but it’s definitely the best deal that has ever been presented. Is it the right thing to do? Personally, I don’t believe that the Palestinians want a peace deal, no matter what you offer them; what they want is the destruction of Israel. But not all Arabs are on the same page. I’m met many Arabs who are extremely friendly to Jews, and some of them dislike the Palestinians. The Palestinians have only terrorism and killing on their minds. Look, I’m 99% sure that they’re going to reject it, just as they rejected all the other deals. Which reminds me of a joke,” he says, catching me off guard. 

“A scorpion once needed to cross a river but it couldn’t swim. He saw a turtle pass by and asked if it could hitch a ride on its back. The turtle replied, ‘I can’t take you across—you’ll kill me!’ The scorpion reassured him, ‘If I kill you, we’ll both drown. I wouldn’t do that.’ The turtle thought about it for a minute and realized that the scorpion had a good point, so he allowed it to climb onto its back and they began their trip across the river. Somewhere midway the scorpion couldn’t control itself anymore and stung the turtle. As the venom spread through it veins, the turtle turned around and said, ‘Why did you do that? You promised not to. Now we’re both going to die!’ The scorpion just shrugged and said, ‘What can I do? We’re in the Middle East.’ Again, the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in peace. All it would mean is that they would have to go out and get jobs, and they wouldn’t be able to focus on terrorism anymore. It goes against their nature. Let them first change their way of life and stop teaching their children to kill, then maybe we can sit down and work something out. But if you’re asking me if it’s the best peace deal ever offered, I believe so.”

“Do you anticipate that Russia will support it?” I ask.

“I have no idea.”

“Do you think that the relationship between the United States and Russia is improving?” 

“I think that there are people who don’t want it to improve because it serves their political agenda, but if they forgot about their own personal interests we would be in a very different place. In my opinion, whether we’re talking about sanctions, collusion or election meddling, it’s all just political games that have nothing to do with reality. If people truly wanted to fix the world and make it a safer place, all these issues wouldn’t be on the table. But the fact that the leaders of both countries really get along with each other means that there’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to effect positive change, both in the Middle East and elsewhere. Unfortunately, there are some people who won’t allow it to happen, because all they want to do is destroy the American president as well as the Russian one. They aren’t attempting ‘l’sakein olam b’malchus Shakai.’ All they care about is their own careers and their own party.”

“On Yud Shvat we will be celebrating 70 years of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s leadership. What does Yud Shvat signify to you?” I ask.

“I was fortunate enough to be in 770 40 years ago on Yud Shvat, when we celebrated 30 years of the Rebbe’s leadership. In those days Lubavitch looked very different. I grew up on shlichus, so I remember how many people didn’t really understand or agree with a lot of what the Rebbe was trying to achieve. This included things like the very concept of kiruv, embracing technology to spread Yiddishkeit, or even having a picture of the Rebbe on your wall. I remember big talmidei chachamim criticizing it as ‘avizrayu d’avodah zarah.’ Today, you see pictures of gedolim in every Jewish home, but when I was a child, only Lubavitcher families had pictures on their walls, and other Jewish groups felt that it was the wrong thing to do. I also remember people telling me that what my father was doing was terrible, and that ‘if you deal with garbage, you’re going to smell like it.’ We were told that not-frum people were goyim and we shouldn’t befriend them or invite them for Shabbos. But baruch Hashem, this attitude has completely changed over the last few decades, as has much of the Jewish world.

“The Rebbe’s leadership began exactly five years after the Holocaust, at a time when there was much pessimism and despair in the hearts of Jews. Many Yidden were stranded in remote places all over the world and had no one to turn to. The world has changed thanks to the Rebbe, but I’m sure the Rebbe wouldn’t want me to say that, because there is still so much left to be done. This year, in honor of Yud Shvat, we have undertaken to locate every single Jew in Russia. We believe that there are over a million people in the former Soviet Union who are Jewish, but many of them don’t even know it because their Jewish maternal grandmothers hid it under the Communists. 

“Just to give you an idea of what it’s like here, I was recently interviewed by a journalist from a European newspaper and told him about this project. I explained that if someone’s maternal grandmother is Jewish, it means that he or she is also Jewish. I happened to mention that I’d recently visited a prison where I was supposed to meet with the head of the Moscow correctional system. For some reason he couldn’t make it, so he sent his deputy instead. This deputy, a woman, heard me saying in a speech to the prisoners that if one’s maternal grandmother is Jewish, it means that he or she is also Jewish. At the end of the event she called me aside and said, ‘My mother’s mother was Jewish, so I guess I’m Jewish too. I never knew that.’ A short time later the warden of the prison showed up. He hadn’t even heard my speech, but he did hear the deputy telling me that she was Jewish, and he said, ‘I can’t believe it! That makes me also Jewish, because my mother’s mother was also a Jew!’ 

“There is a seemingly endless number of people here who have no idea that they are Jewish, and it is our job is reach out to them because that’s what the Rebbe wanted us to do. I always say that Hitler wanted to find every Jew because of hate, whereas we want to find them because we love them. The Rebbe taught us to take responsibility for every single Jew and show him or her the beauty of Yiddishkeit. Not only should they feel welcome, but they should also feel that they are needed. We have to bring them back, because each and every Jew can make the world a better place and help to bring Moshiach.”

I thank Rabbi Lazar for being so gracious with his time, and we agree to stay in touch. I’m about to conclude the conversation when he adds, ‘Wait—I still didn’t tell you the end of the story! I had just finished telling this European journalist about these people I’d met in prison who discovered that they were Jewish when he turned to me and said, ‘My maternal grandmother was Jewish too.’ He then told me her name, and it turned out that she was from Moldova. Anyhow, the photographer who had come to document the interview asked if the journalist and I could pose for some photos, so I suggested that we go to the shul to take pictures. We went downstairs, and someone approached the journalist to put on tefillin, but he said he wasn’t ready. After we took the pictures, I told the journalist that this was really a chance to reconnect to the grandmother who had made him Jewish. He started shaking and said, ‘Okay, I’m ready.’ He put on tefillin and he was really very moved. Then he wrote an article that was a huge kiddush Hashem. We never know where we’ll find a Jew, but we do know that we need to find each and every one of them. That’s what we have learned from 70 years of the Rebbe’s leadership.”

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