Aid to those in need was one more feature of Jewish life in Leningrad. In the late 1940s, the organizers of the underground charitable system in Leningrad were synagogue gabi Ghedalier Pechersky and Shimon Beller. Beller, who was in charge of leather procurements in Oblpotrebsoyuz, knew very well the villages of the Leningrad Region. In good time, two months before Hanukkah, Pesach or the Autumn feasts, for the money gotten from Rabbi Lubanov and the funds that he could afford to take himself from his family budget, he bought hen fodder and took it to previously selected peasants he knew well. He gave them prepayment for their work and left the fodder with them; the full settlement was carried out when he received the fat hens. Beller brought live hens to Leningrad and the shoykhet slaughtered them. Then, the women began cooking.
Beller's wife, her sister (sometimes, with young women to assist them) plucked the hens, melted down the fat, baked potato pudding with chicken, and boiled French plum compote. And all this was done in a communal kitchen! Then they poured the compote in the jars and bottled the fat, Rabbi Lubanov stamped "kosher", and the feast was complete. The children of Shimon Beller and their mates got 3 or 4 such food packages and delivered them to lonely Jewish old people. Secrecy was kept strictly. Never the same young people delivered the packages to the same address. So the idea of Ghedalier Pechersky was implemented. By all accounts, he was a good and very honest man. As he worked as a prosthodontist, he was a well-off man and he spent a considerable part of his wage for charity. Because his authority, Pechersky was elected gabi of the Leningrad Jewish religious community.
Pechersky resisted the pressure by the "organs"; he refused to fulfill the orders of the Plenipotentiary for the Affairs of Religion and received a call from officers of the Israel Embassy at his home. In 1961, he was accused of Jewish nationalism. In the City Court, he kept his dignity and said that he always considered protection of Jews as his destiny. Pechersky was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment and he was imprisoned for 7 years. In 1968, he already took care to give the Jewish community a section for burials in the Memory of the Victims of the 9th of January Cemetery (because Preobrazhenskoye Cemetery was closed for new burials). Pechersky went to Moscow and attained the removal of the Plenipotentiary for the Affairs of Religion from Leningrad. In the early 1970s, Pecherskys' family repatriated themselves to Israel. The memory of Pechersky is perpetuated in the name of a Tel-Aviv street.
Gedalie Pechersky with his family. The Forties. Photo