Battle for Schneerson Collection Brought to New Front in Israel

For the first time since the battle over the Chabad Library began, Chabad has brought the battle to redeem the seforim held in captivity in Russia to Israel, opening a new front in their decades long effort.

By Anash.org reporter

For the first time since the battle over the Chabad Library began, Chabad has brought the battle to redeem the seforim held in captivity in Russia to Israel, opening a new front in their decades long effort.

In the ongoing efforts to force Russia to return the Schneerson Collection to Chabad’s ownership, Chabad in Israel filed suit against the Russian Federation for its illegal possession of the Chabad library.

Agudas Chassidei Chabad has requested the Israeli government halt the transfer of the Alexander Nevsky Church in the Old City of Jerusalem to Russia, which the Russians claim as their own.

For years Moscow has demanded that Israel hand over control to Russia of the Alexander Courtyard church compound in Jerusalem which former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to give to the Russians as a goodwill gesture following the release of Naama Issachar from a Russian jail in 2020.

In 2010, a US court ruled in favor of Agudas Chasidei Chabad and ordered Russia to hand over the treasured books. Russia has however refused to hand them over, falsely claiming that they are a national treasure.  

The Schneerson Collection, which includes thousands of sacred books, letters, and manuscripts from the founders of the Chabad movement, has been in the hands of the Russian government since the start of the First World War, when the Rebbe Rashab put the books in storage in Moscow for safekeeping, with the intention to retrieve them after the war was over.

After the Bolsheviks took control of Russia in 1917, the holy seforim were handed over to Russia’s State Library, which later refused to hand the collection back to the Chabad Lubavitch.

The Russian government also took possession of some of the texts after Soviet troops seized them from Nazi researchers in the Second World War.

Earlier this year, Russia’s Foreign Ministry retaliated against Chabad and banned three prominent American Chabad rabbis from entering the country. They are Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, Rabbi Avremel Shemtov, chairman of Agudas Chassidei Chabad, and California Head Shliach Rabbi Shlomo Cunin. The Ministry’s list describes Krinsky as “rabbi, secretary of Agudas Chasidei Chabad”, Cunin as “Rabbi, member of the board of Agudas Chasidei Chabad”, and Shemtov as “Rabbi, chairman of the board of Agudas Chasidei Chabad”.

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