Chabad Rabbis Get Back One Book From Disputed Schneerson Collection Held by Russia

Schumer, and orthodox Jews, celebrate Return Of A sacred book from Russia. Schneerson Collection (CoLive)
Rabbis of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement were able to obtain in Israel a book belonging to the Schneerson collection that they are fighting to get back from Russia.

The volume was discovered recently at the Kedem Auction House in Israel and returned to the Chabad rabbis in the United States, according to a statement Thursday from the office of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who celebrated the book’s return with the rabbis.

“The discovery of this sacred text in Israel is a simcha for Chabad and the entire Jewish community,” wrote Schumer, who is Jewish, using the Hebrew word for “joy.” Schumer added that he is “grateful to have been a part of this joyous occasion.”

In 2013, a U.S. judge ordered Russia to pay $50,000 a day in fines for failing to honor a 2010 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to hand over the historic collection of 12,000 books and 50,000 documents to the New York-based movement.

Since 1991, leaders of the group have been trying to regain possession of the library of Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, who led the Chabad movement until his death in 1950.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the texts are part of Russian heritage and will not leave his country. He transferred the texts to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow a year after its 2012 opening, but the books are there on loan and remain the possession of the Russian State Library collection. The collection came into the Russian state’s possession in 1918 following its confiscation by communists.

Schneerson managed to take the other part of the collection out of the Soviet Union while emigrating in the 1930s.

About 25,000 pages of manuscripts from the collection were later seized by the Nazis, and then regained by the Red Army and handed over to the Russian State Military Archive.