In 1909, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok and his young family moved to Yekaterinaslav (known today as Dnieperpetrovsk), where he was appointed Chief Rabbi at the request of Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneerson, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe (known as the Rebbe Rashab). Rabbi Levi Yitzchok devoted himself entirely to his new position and he soon earned the love and respect of the local community.
In 1914, World War I broke out, followed by the Russian Revolution three years later. Although the Jews had suffered under the tyrannical Czar, their lives under the new Communist regime were even worse. The new government disguised their anti-Semitism as the pursuit of “equality” and used this principle as an excuse to uproot all vestiges of Jewish tradition and observance. All major Jewish institutions, including Synagogues, ritual baths, schools, and Rabbinical colleges were forcibly closed. Anyone who tried to keep Jewish tradition alive was bitterly persecuted. However, the Chassidim who worked on behalf of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, were singled out for the worst abuse.
The Communists stopped at nothing to prevent Jewish youth from learning about their heritage. The infamous secret police, or NKVD, were deployed to round up anyone suspected of teaching Judaism. Rabbis, community workers, and even simple Chassidim were dragged out of their homes in the middle of the night and arrested. Observant Jewry could not look to the Jewish Communists, or “Yevsektsia,” for any help. They were only too happy to assist the authorities and they regularly informed on their fellow Jews.
Despite these new difficulties, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok refused to stop looking after the Jews of Yekaterinaslav. Eventually the Communist authorities in Ukraine heard about his activities and they placed him under surveillance. Before long they discovered that Rabbi Levi Yitzchok assisted Jews living outside the city as well as in his own community. For this reason the authorities considered him a dangerous enemy who had to be stopped. Rabbi Levi Yitzchok was arrested and sent to prison. He was later sentenced to a period of internal exile.