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Moscow Jewish museum ready to take Schneerson library

February 20, 2013, 13:35 UTC+3

The Schneerson library is a collection of ancient Jewish books and manuscripts

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MOSCOW, February 20 (Itar-Tass) – The Moscow Jewish Museum and the Centre of Tolerance are ready to place the Schneerson collection, but they find it necessary to do the preliminary work to specify the makeup of the collection, chairman of the museum board Borukh Gorin told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to exhibit the Schneerson library at the Jewish Museum and the Centre of Tolerance. He noted that this library does not belong to any concrete Jewish community, it belongs to the Russian state.

“The museum is ready to take the Schneerson library,” Gorin said. “All storage conditions in case of an appropriate decision will certainly be created, all this is attainable. Moreover, at the museum they are attainable even easier than in the library, but it is needed to begin with a very meticulous work to establish the collection fund.” He noted that “there is such brand as the Schneerson library in the media and the public opinion, but actually no one is aware what it is like, because the fund that exists in the Russian State Library, is not described in detail, and no one is aware how many books are in the collection.”

“If the presidential statement on Tuesday is transformed in the instructions, it is needed to begin so that the group of experts will establish the Schneerson library fund from the Judaic funds in the Russian State Library,” Gorin said, noting that “this is not the work for one day, but a serious work.”

In his words, the collection consists of three types of books: the manuscripts, on which the stamp of the Schneerson library is put; the documents, on which Schneerson’s marks are put; the artefacts, which have no identification marks. In Gorin’s view, a committee of experts will be able to settle the problem. The committee will include the specialists in the Judaism and directly the Schneerson library.

“In the work to establish this collection fund we will begin to understand everything regarding the collection. As the debates continue over the collection, the numerical strength of which varies much in different versions,” he noted.

The Schneerson library is a collection of ancient Jewish books and manuscripts that was collected in the beginning of the twentieth century by head of the Lubavitch Hasidic Jews Iosif Yitzhak Schneerson on the territory of the modern Smolensk Region in the settlement Lubavichi. During the First World War Schneerson moved to Rostov-on-Don and handed over some part of the library for storage in Moscow. This part is being stored at the Russian State Library, Schneerson brought another part of the library abroad in 1927. This part of the library fell in the hands of the Nazis. Schneerson succeeded to go to New York. The Schneerson archives along with other trophy documents were brought to Moscow from Germany after the Nazi defeat and is being stored at the Russian State Military Archives.

The directorate of the Russian State Library passed 70 books from the Schneerson archives to the Federation of Jewish communities in Russia in the nineties of the twentieth century (several books had several copies, therefore, the copies were handed over). Now these books are being stored at the library of the Moscow Jewish community centre in Maryina Roshcha.

In 1950 Yitzhak Schneerson died without leaving any instructions over the library.

Last January, upon the lawsuit from the Jewish religious organization Agudas Chasidei Chabad the Washington court passed a verdict, under which the Russian government was to pay a daily fine of 50,000 dollars to the movement of the Lubavitch Hasids unless the so-called Schneerson collection is brought back to them.

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