Rabbi Zalman Kazen, one of the first pioneer Shluchim of the Rebbe in the United States, passed away this past Sunday, 8 Tammuz – July 10th.
Rabbi Kazen was interviewed as part of JEM’s My Encounter with the Rebbe project on 6 Iyar, 5769 – April 30th, 2009 about his encounters with the Frierdiker Rebbe and the Rebbe.
This is a raw excerpt of the interview – no subtitles, etc. – relating his visit to the Frierdiker Rebbe in Leningrad in Tishrei of 1927.
A rough transcription:
“…And my Zeide sent us a telegram that this is the last Simchas Torah that the Frierdiker Rebbe will be there (in Russia) and we should right away come. My Tatteh took my brother Shimon… He already passed away. He was older than me by ten years and I was nine years old. And he was about fifteen, sixteen years old.
I was eight, nine years. I was born in Ayin Tes(1919) and this was in Pay Ches (1928), so I was nine years old, and he was about fifteen years old. He took us.
We went there….Chol HaMoed, this is Chol HaMoed Sukkos.Hoshaana Rabbah! We came Hoshaana Rabbah. We came to Leningrad and we davened in the Minyan of Rabbi Chonye Marazov (the Frierdiker Rebbe’s secretary). It was at R’ Chonye Marozov’s house. He had a Minyan there. He was arrested at this time. He was arrested but the Minyan was still in his house.
The Frierdiker Rebbe’s hall was a very big hall where the Rebbe Davenend. And I came…and sure I saw so many children my age there, nine years old; I was playing around. My Tatteh called me in and said you should look on the Rebbe. When the Frierdiker Rebbe said the Maftir, he held me by the Bima and told me that I should look at the Rebbe. This was Simchas Torah, and then…
And suddenly they said there will be Yechidus! A line formed to go in to the Rebbe. [They said] but not more than one minute we should be by the Frierdiker Rebbe because there were a lot of people and the Rebbe cannot stay a whole night. And this is when we came in to the Frierdiker Rebbe.
The Rebbe Rayatz saw me when I was nine years old. My brother was about fifteen years old or sixteen years old. And the Frierdiker Rebbe said he should [start to work]. He already started to work. My brother, fifteen years old, there wasn’t a Yeshiva there; he started working at home, it was different then…(he worked) with machines that they made knitting. And me, he told me I should learn; I should go in the underground Yeshivos and I should learn. And he gave me a Bracha that we should have Hatzlacha and we should have Yiras Shamayim and also he gave a Bracha. This is what I remember, the last Yechidus with the Rebbe Rayatz (in Leningrad).”