Jun 13, 2013
Putin Announces Books Return

Russian President Vladimir Putin personally came to announce the transfer of the "Schneerson Archive," but not to the Rebbe's Library in Brooklyn. Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar called it "Solomon's decision."

By COLlive reporter
Photos by Meir Alfasi

Russia's powerful President Vladimir Putin came Thursday to the Museum of Jewish History in Russia, located in Moscow and which he personally helped build by donating a month's salary.

This visit had another purpose, as he has already toured and seen the $50 million state-of-the-art complex in the past.

With a photo of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and 2 large bouquets of flowers behind him, and a group of black hatted Chabad rabbis seated in front of him, Putin announced that Russia will be transferring a collection of historic Jewish books and manuscripts to the museum.

Otherwise known as the "Schneerson Archive," the library belonged to the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson and was nationalized by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and ended up in the Russian State Library. A second part fell into the hands of the Nazis, and later seized by the Red Army and handed over to the Russian State Military Archive.

At the request of his successor, the Rebbe - Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Lubavitchers have sought the restitution of the library since the late 1980s. President Boris Yeltsin promised James Baker, Secretary of State in the first Bush administration, that the holy documents would be returned.

Refusing to do so since, Putin has insisted the books "belong to Russia" and instead proposed the library be transferred to the museum in Moscow. Businessman and writer Sergei L. Ustinov is cited on its website as its founder and director.

Putin said Thursday: "I hope transferring the Schneerson collection, which undoubtedly not only presents an interest, but is also of great value to Jewish people, and not only Jews living in Russia, but also Jews who live in other countries, to the Jewish Museum and the Moscow Tolerance Center for storage purposes, will put an end to this problem."

According to the Interfax news agency, the president said any person visiting the center, regardless of his place of residence, can "study and hold in his hands these books and get from them the knowledge that modern people need so much."


The idea was rejected by lawyers representing the group appointed by the Rebbe to handle the issue on behalf of Chabad - Rabbi Yitzchak Kogan of Russia, Rabbi Shlomo Cunin of California, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Aharonov of Israel and Rabbi Sholom Ber Levin of New York.

They said the lawful home of the books are at the Agudas Chassidei Chabad Library, the official archive of the Chabad Lubavitch movement located adjutant to Lubavitch Headquarters - 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, NY.

But seated in the crowd at the press conference, in addition to many Shluchim serving in Russia, was the same Rabbi Kogan, the "Leningrad Tzadik" and leader of the Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue in Moscow.

Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, who is the Head Shliach of Chabad in the country and who enjoys Putin's support, spoke following Putin and called the decision a wise one, saying it was "a big day" for Jewish people.

"Rabbi Yitzchok Kogan, who is seated here with us, deals with this issue every day. He made a great effort that the books be returned to Jewish hands," Rabbi Lazar said. "For him this is a very, very important issue."

Addressing Putin, Rabbi Lazar said: "Today you have made an important step that I would even call a heroic deed. We would call it as 'Solomon's decision'."

Looking at the photo of the Rebbe, Rabbi Lazar said: "We remember the words of our Rebbe, who said there will come a day when these books will be returned to the Jewish people."

Also addressing the press conference was the Russian-born Rabbi Alexander Boroda, Chairman of the Board of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR) who has close ties to the Kremlin.

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Opinions and Comments
The entire library?!
Without going into the issue that the real place of the Seforim belong to the Lubavitch World Headquarters in NY - are these ALL the books?! How about the other things like the dishes and cutlery that belonged to the Rebbaim?! Where are they?!
(6/13/2013 10:47:32 AM)
Fighting The Rebbe.
Compromisers. Dragging Lubavitcher shluchim after them.
(6/13/2013 11:18:44 AM)
not sure
Other news sites are quoting Putin as saying that the issue is now ''over'' meaning he sees this as the final settlement Rabbi's Kogan and Lazar must get the word out to all the media that the issue is not over at all until the seforim come to 770 eastern parkway in brooklyn as the Rebbe wants
(6/13/2013 11:21:02 AM)
Very nice but...
the Rebbe said clearly the place for the books is in the library of Aguch next to 770
(6/13/2013 11:47:09 AM)
Its just another stop closer to get to 770
it is not over until it is over
(6/13/2013 11:51:51 AM)
BS"D would Rabbi L be able to look the Rebbe in the face and state the issue is resolved. This was not and is not in accordance with the Rebbes directives. Love to hear direct statement from Rabbi Shemtov and/or Rabbi Cunin
(6/13/2013 11:56:57 AM)
Another Hei Teves
(6/13/2013 11:57:29 AM)
It's Not All or Nothing
Sometimes you have to take incremental steps. The books are being returned to Jewish hands., B"H. Putin will not remain in office forever. The next step can come later.
(6/13/2013 12:02:51 PM)
one step at a time
Its easy to say "this isnt what the Rebbe wanted" from crown heights- far from the drama. Anyone who isnt in Russia has no idea what these people had to go through to get the books to where they are now. Of course they belong in 770- that is their ultimate goal, but its a lot a lot of work- and requires a lot of sechel. This is a BIG step for chabad.
(6/13/2013 12:11:22 PM)
Difficult Issue
There are no easy answers to this issue. The court case has had a very negative impact on Chabad in Russia. Shluchim were denied visas etc. We know the Rebbe wanted to the books returned to New York. And sadly today we do not have that personal direction from the Rebbe on accepting this compromise or not.

Maybe this will open the door for a future step when the books can be brought to the Aguch library.
(6/13/2013 12:26:40 PM)
Ch resident
Could someone please enlighten me how rabbi lazar can say this is a "Solomon decision " when the rebbe wanting nothing short other then books MUST be in aguch library in Brooklyn New York ?????? ... Rabbi lazar is definitely doing what is good for him and NOT for the rebbe ... Sad sad and sadder
(6/13/2013 12:41:29 PM)
The Russians must do this in a way that is dignified and does not seem to be capitulation. Once they are in a Chabad museum, perhaps they can be eventually sent as traveling exhibit to other museums (like Jewish Children's?) and perhaps eventually become a 'permanent' visiting exhibit. These things do not always have to be accomplished in a shouting match. sometimes they can be quietly arranged.
At least they will now be housed in a Jewish museum!!
(6/13/2013 12:44:03 PM)
BS"D to # 9
maybe true what you said using human sechel but did the Rebbe work in increments re such matters. I imagine that time will tell
(6/13/2013 12:45:37 PM)
Thank G-d
Hallejuyah Praise The Lord - gut Yom Tov
(6/13/2013 12:58:58 PM)
to number 9
Sorry, but you are TOTALLY wrong...the Russians ORCHESTRATED this - from start to finish - that's the ONLY reason Putin is there...make no mistake about it...this is a terrible nisoyon which tragically our brother did not have the koach to withstand...it does NOt require seichel...seichel is the problem...seichel leads people to go against and find excuses...it needs SHTOLTZ...not for nothing did the Rebbe chose who he did to be responsible for this issue...very sad...but let us not get mixed up and FOOLED....
(6/13/2013 12:59:23 PM)
#9. A big step backwards, with our so called leaders
compromising the Rebbe's wishes. Same as Israeli politicians who fight against the Rebbe's Shleimus Haaretz and say that are taking winning steps forward for peace. Same as putting The Rbbe's michemes Hashem for Moshiach and Shleimus Haaretz on the back burner and taking shluchim away from CH [beferish neged malkenu] and releasing them too late to join achdus in 770. Golus bechatzreinu maamash.
(6/13/2013 1:08:33 PM)
I am pretty sure that the average Lubavitcher and machabre seforim will have better access to the collection while they are in this Russian Museum then had they been directly transferred to the 770 Museum...
(6/13/2013 1:15:30 PM)
Didan Notzach?
(6/13/2013 1:28:36 PM)
to me this sounds more like a set back for the seforim than a didan notzach
(6/13/2013 1:28:40 PM)
(6/13/2013 1:30:45 PM)
Russian Jews deserve it more than American ...
... trust me. Understand this and politics are irrelevant for dvar kdusha.
(6/13/2013 1:36:25 PM)
oy tattenyu
Who is rabbi lazar head shliach under? Is his boss the rebbe or putin? Who does he REALLY work for? True this is a nisayon but a shliach should be able to use the koichois of our nassi to overcome... And the biggest galus is that some see this as a didan natzach ?!?!?! Just wondering if the happy crowd are old enough to remember the rebbe screaming about the seforim?
(6/13/2013 2:06:31 PM)
Is he doing it so that Moscow will boost its economy with tourists?
I'm not going to Moscow to read the library but maybe other people would. Shvach compromise but a tiny step better than before
(6/13/2013 2:19:06 PM)
just me
to #11 sad sad and sadder in CH

these comments or so lame.
Why don't you do 2% of what R Lazar does in Russia and then you can say something.
The chutzpa of the few knocking are I bet the same people that lamented no water at the parade, no discounts at the new coffee shop and tznius is off the wall.
All of you need to take a good look in the mirror.
(6/13/2013 2:48:56 PM)
Hopefully Moshiach will not have to Many stages.
(6/13/2013 2:56:39 PM)
combating the russians
the REBBE shitah re: this was not to go out in public to fight them as we saw re. the liberation campaign to free jews from there in the 60's--70's.the rebbe always said we have to take in consideration the backlashes which the russians could and would take revenge against those who would combat them.today, after G TAMUZ what big difference is it if in the first stage it will be in LUBAVITCH possesion under BERL L. or BERL L..if berl l.needs to do some research or work he can move to moscow and do it there.you have to reason that the russians have a big ego that do not want to be seen that the americans can BULLY them.
(6/13/2013 3:49:06 PM)
to #24
Thank you for standing up to what's right.
(6/13/2013 4:00:18 PM)
about their trip to russia.
he writes that the rebbe told them not to do anything that could harm the local Shluchim. For Rabbi Lazar to tell putin "no the books belong to 770" is like telling putin "please expel all Chabad Shluchim from Russia". Russia has expelled Shluchim before and will do so at any moment if Putin tells them to.
(6/13/2013 4:57:59 PM)
Only way to know for sure if this was right decision is to check the Rebbe's muga sichos.
Hergeshim of shluchim (whether in Russia or sent by the Rebbe to get the seforim out) will not count.
Please someone check the Sichos. And report back here.
(6/13/2013 5:08:57 PM)
A big step forward!
Possession is nine tenths of the law. Now that the seforim are secure in Chabad hands they can be quietly brought to the Rebbe's library (at the right time). It hasn't been easy but I think Rabbi Lazar made the right decision.
(6/13/2013 5:53:39 PM)
to number 26
you are mixing apples and oranges. Try to understand what is really going on. Putin is one of the most powerful people in the world. Why is he at such an event? For the Rebbe's good? Or in order to try to use Chabad Russia to combat that which the Rebbe wanted, the return of the seforim to New York only. Don't be fooled. Shtolz, not capitulation!
(6/13/2013 6:04:52 PM)
being incarcerated in a fancy prison, or in a misrable one...
This IS NOT, plain and simple - what the Rebbe said HE wanted.
The Rebbe said HE wants the seforim returned, along with ALL of the chafotzim to the rightful place - 770 EASTERN PARKWAY, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK USA - NOT sitting in "prison", albeit a fancy prison - in Russia!?
They will NEVER, in a million years - allow even one sefer to be taken out of their lousy hands.
(6/13/2013 6:04:58 PM)
To all the negative commenters
Of course we know what the Rebbe wants, but we need to do whatever we can to make it possible. V'dal.
(6/13/2013 6:09:44 PM)
to number 33
No, we should NOT be party to stopping what the Rebbe clearly wanted, the seforim here in 770, no where else! Its really very simple - Putin does NOT to return the seforim, and his intention in putting them in the museum in Moscow is to STOP Chas vshalom their return to where they need to be...its NOT a first step...but a sad step backwards with the conset lo aleynu of our own brother...
(6/13/2013 6:31:34 PM)
Compromisers away with you all!
Rabbi Lazar has no business interfering! The Rebbe appointed his representatives! Why has Rabbi Lazar gotten himself involved? His job was to spread Yiddishkeit. Thats it!
(6/13/2013 6:50:18 PM)
Great news
Good first step. Leaders change, when Russian leadership changes, they can take the sforim out of russia. For now at least the library is in safe place and chassidim from world over can benefit.
(6/13/2013 8:29:23 PM)
A Solomonic decision indeed
Have people forgotten what Solomon's decision was? Think about it, and you will realise what Lazar is really saying. Putin is offering us half a child. In Solomon's famous case, the true mother was the one who *rejected* the compromise, not the one who accepted it!
(6/13/2013 8:36:27 PM)
to 37
my thoughts exactly; lazar's words were clever, very clever; he is saying we are the mother who did not want the books destroyed, and we will get the books, just not yet at that step.
(6/14/2013 9:42:17 AM)
Praise for Putin Lazar and the Jewish Communities in Russia!
I am happy they came out of the storage box and displayed for all to see on display in Russia. At least they are in Chabad's possession. The Rabbi Lazar deserves applause how he has brought yiddishkeit back to Russia and all of the Shulichum. A job well done!!!
(5/14/2015 7:37:00 PM)
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