Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Russian Jews Slam Chabad Over Schneerson Trove

Leaders of Russia’s Jewish community have criticized a U.S. federal court ruling that fined Russia for refusing to hand over ancient Chasidic texts.

Rabbi Zinovy Kogan of the Russian Jewish Congress told the Itar-Tass news agency Jan. 17 that 12,000 books and 50,000 documents from the collection of Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, who led the Chabad-Lubavitch movement before his death in 1950, were “kept carefully and remain available to the general public” at the National State Library in Moscow.

On Jan. 16, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. fined the Russian government $50,000 for every day that it refuses to hand over the documents. In an earlier ruling, Lamberth ruled that the materials belonged to representatives of the Chabad movement.

But Kogan challenged Chabad’s claims to the collection, saying that the books were written “long before the emergence of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.”

Chabad’s branch in Russia, which is known as the Federation of Jewish Communities, also said that the move by its U.S.-based parent organization was unwise. FJC spokesman Boruch Gorin is quoted as saying the “tactic” to use the courts to recoup the books “doesn’t stand a chance.”

U.S. Justice Department lawyer Joel McElvain told Lamberth that the U.S. government has made progress, albeit “slow and halting,” on the matter. He said that fines would amount to a substantial step backward, according to the Associated Press.

Lamberth ordered the institutions to give up the items in 2010, five years after Chabad sued for their return. Russia has not recognized the authority of the U.S. court and is refusing to give up the artifacts, saying they are important to Russian national heritage.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.