Interview with Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman

“The year was 1952, a terrible year for the Jews of the Soviet Union; with the fear of uncertainty in the air, no one could think about organizing a full-scale bar mitzvah celebration.”

Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman is the author of the book The Jewish Underground of Samarkand – How Faith Defied the Soviet Rule. Rabbi Zaltzman was born in Kharkov, Ukraine. 

From the age 16, along with several other young men, Rabbi Zaltzman was involved in Chamah, an underground Jewish organization that helped sustain and preserve Jewish life in the Soviet Union through education. Chamah established a network of underground Jewish schools that clandestinely taught more than 1,500 children and provided material and spiritual support to Jews trying to obtain exit visas in the 1960s and 70s. 

Rabbi Zaltzman was honored for his humanitarian and Jewish outreach in the U.S. Senate in May 2016, as part of Jewish American Heritage Month.

He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Shoshana. They are parents of a daughter and a son and are blessed with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

To hear the entire interview, please click on the audio link below.