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MOSCOW, May 25 (Itar-Tass) - The collection of ancient Jewish books and manuscripts, known as the Schneerson collections, will soon be placed with a new branch of the Russian State Library at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center. Experts have already inspected the museum’s premises that will house the collection, the museum’s press service said on Friday.
The museum will also open a reading room where these books and manuscripts will be available for reading. Back at the end of 2012, when the museum was opened, the possibility of its housing the Scheerson collection was looked at. From the juridical point of view, the Schneerson collection will remain property of the Russian State Library, but actually it will be kept at the Jewish Museum. “Therefore the community can use it and the Chassids will get access to the books but we will not break the law. And making sure we do not break the law is very important for us,” Mikhail Shvydkoi, Russian president’s international cultural cooperation envoy, told Itar-Tass earlier.
In January 2013, Washington’s court handed down a verdict in the lawsuit filed by Agudas Chasidei Chabad, which requires the Russian government to pay a fine of 50,000 U.S. dollars daily to the Lubavitch movement until the Schneerson Collection is returned to it. Moscow refused to do so saying this verdict was unjust. The Russian Foreign Ministry labeled the verdict as “gross violation of generally accepted norms and principles of the international law.”
The Schneerson library is a collection of ancient Jewish books and manuscripts collected by Hasidic Rabbis. They led the Chabad movement in Lubavitchi, Belarus, in the territory of Russia’s modern Smolensk region. This movement was the centre of one of the branches of Hasidism.
The library was founded in the early 20th century by Lubavitcher Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson on the basis of the collection put together since 1772. It now holds 12,000 books and 50,000 rare documents, including 381 manuscripts.
During World War I, Schneerson moved to Rostov-on-Don and sent a part of his library to Moscow for safekeeping. This part is now kept at the Russian State Library, and the other part was taken out of the country by Schneerson in 1927. Eventually, it fell into the hands of the Nazi. Schneerson himself moved to New York. After WWII, the Schneerson archive and other documents were taken from Germany to Moscow and are now kept at the Russian State Military Archives.
In the 1990s, the Russian State Library handed over 70 books from the Schneerson collection to the Federation of Russian Jewish Communities. Now these books are kept in the library of the Moscow Jewish Community Center in Maryina Roshcha.
Schneerson died in 1950, leaving no instructions concerning the library.