One doesn’t easily forget the great joy that was felt thirty years ago when the one who was known as “The Tzaddik from Leningrad” was finally granted exit visas from Russia for himself and his family. The joy was widespread as, after many refusals from the Russian authorities, Rabbi Yitzchak Kogan and his family made Aliya and settled in Yerushalaim.
Rabbi Kogan, who had been actively helping Jews behind the Iron Curtain, threw himself wholeheartedly into helping his fellow brothers in Israel as well. Then the Rebbe sent him back to Russia, this time to Moscow. Here he succeeded in redeeming the over-200- year-old historical Bolshaya Bronnaya shul, which is steps away from the Red Square, and turning it into a lighthouse of thriving Yiddishkeit. Rabbi Kogan has also been serving as the Chief Shochet for all of Russia, under the Hashgocha of Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar.
In appreciation and admiration to Rabbi Kogan for his longtime support, the Shaarey Tzedek Chesed Organization arranged a big birthday farbrengen to celebrate his 70th. At the farbrengen, Rabbi Lazar shared many stories of those first difficult years. Stories of sowing, plowing, watering, and tending to tiny seeds that have now sprouted and grown into beautiful trees all over Russia and beyond.
The highlight of the event was when the MC announced that a new, mehudar Sefer Torah would be written in honor of Rabbi Kogan and his family. Rabbi Lazar was called up to write the first letter, followed by many friends, supporters and community members.
The renowned Baal Menagen from Tzfas, Rabbi Shmuel Greiniman, wove together songs of thanks to Hashem for the past, and hope for the future, along with prayers for the success of Am Yisroel, much to everyone’s delight. May Hashem bentch Rabbi Kogan with good health, and lots of strength to continue spreading light wherever he goes, for many more happy, healthy years to come!