Jun 13, 2013
'Russian Exhibition - Unacceptable'
Shluchim in Russian say L'Chaim and pose with President Putin, Thursday * Photos: Meir Alfasi

In a statement to COLlive.com, Chabad representatives rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin's claim that the Schneerson Archive dispute was "finally closed" today.

By COLlive reporter
Photos by Meir Alfasi

Chabad representatives have rejected the claim by President Vladimir Putin on Thursday that the dispute over the Schneerson Archive was put to rest by transferring it to the Museum of Jewish History in Russia.

In a statement to COLlive.com, they said the issue is not settled, although Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and other local Chabad officials were in attendance at Putin's press conference and publicly thanked him for the decision.

The decision was declared as a victory for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, with Lubavitchers present dancing and saying L'Chaim. Rabbi Lazar opened his remarks in the presence of Putin with the declaration of "Gut Yomtov!"

One of the attendees was Moscow Rabbi Yitzchak Kogan, whom the Rebbe personally appointed as representative to deal with the case, alongside Rabbi Shlomo Cunin of California, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Aharonov of Israel and Rabbi Shalom Ber Levine of New York.

Alyza D. Lewin of Lewin & Lewin, LLP said the following statement was on behalf of the representatives (without specifying which of them agreed to it):

The Russian Government's exhibition (which opened this morning) of a portion of the Schneerson Library is unacceptable. Russia's own courts concluded in the 1990s that the Schneerson Library was never nationalized and belongs to Chabad. There is no justification for Russia's retention of Jewish texts that were stolen by the Nazis in Poland and then looted by the Red Army during the Holocaust.

Chabad's spiritual leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, published numerous clear directives stating that the entire Schneerson Collection should be returned to Agudas Chasidei Chabad's worldwide headquarters in New York, not Russia.

The transfer of a few hundred books from the Russian State Library to a branch of the Russian State Library in another facility in Moscow will not put an end to Chabad's efforts to secure the return of the Collection.

Chabad will continue to pursue its legal rights and remedies until the entire Schneerson Collection is returned to its rightful owner, Agudas Chasidei Chabad of United States.

A U.S. federal court has issued monetary contempt sanctions against the Russian Federation which continue to accrue in the amount of $50,000 per day.

* * *

The office of Agudas Chasidei Chabad said the above statement was not written on their behalf, as they have not made one.

Most Read Most Comments

Rabbi Yitzchok Kogan arrives for the press conference
Rabbi Yitzchok Kogan arrives for the press conference
Rabbi Kogan speaks with Israeli journalists Binyomin Lipkin (Hamevaser), Menachem Geshied (Hamodia) and Menachem Cohen (COL, Kfar Chabad Magazine)
Rabbi Kogan speaks with Israeli journalists Binyomin Lipkin (Hamevaser), Menachem Geshied (Hamodia) and Menachem Cohen (COL, Kfar Chabad Magazine)

Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and his spokesman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia Baruch Gorin examine one of the seforim
Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and his spokesman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia Baruch Gorin examine one of the seforim

St. Petersburg Chief Rabbi Mendel Pewzner (L) with Ohr Avner Foundation Director David Mondshine
St. Petersburg Chief Rabbi Mendel Pewzner (L) with Ohr Avner Foundation Director David Mondshine

Opinions and Comments
The way I see it
Rabbi Lazar and the rabbis in Russia don't think this is over at all. They do, however, see this as step in the right direction. Russia would love for it to be over, but Rabbi Lazar won't argue with them, not to get into fights with Putin.
Just so the courts are aware that this is not over, Chabad has to make it very clear that it aint over. Far from it.
(6/13/2013 6:20:06 PM)
against the Rebbe's wishes
Rabbi Lazar has gone against the Rebbe's wishes and his lawyers who have been appointed on behalf of the Rebbe to carry the issue to its just conclusion. By coming to this compromise agreement, Rabbi Lazer has taken steps to weaken the case of the Rebbe. There is nothing to be joyful over, to the contrary. Furthermore it is very questionable if Rabbi Lazar has the authority to continue as part of, or to represent Lubavitch - anywhere.
(6/13/2013 6:40:48 PM)
There is a house for sale next to the Rebbe's Library.
If the Russian government buys the house and stores the seforim there, than it is officially "russian soil". And officially or unofficially (which ever way works better) Lubavitch will take care of the building and have full access to the seforim, so that eveeryone can see.
(6/13/2013 7:08:40 PM)
Pick your fights!
As much as I want the library back home, don't tick off a major player in middle east politics, thus placing millions of Jews in greater danger, over a library! Especially, when he extended an olive branch! It's pikuach nefesh on a major scale!
(6/13/2013 7:23:41 PM)
I know
I was told by members of aguch that some sefarim over the years were being sold from the library. With this transfer that will stop. Reb Berel is a great person. Aguch if they cared so much let them buy the Itkin house to have a place to store the sefarim of the REBBE that are lying in boxes with room to store them.....

(6/13/2013 7:32:22 PM)
What the Rebbe says
What is the Rebbes approach to compromise in areas of doing what the Rebbe wants? Time after time, the Frierdike Rebbe and then the Rebbe, would state their desires and goals and would be ridiculed, admonished or nicely told that its impossible. They were at times offered to compromise on some issues. The answer was always the same: There is no compromise. It will be done as the Rebbe wants. And it always was.
Thank you
(6/13/2013 7:43:38 PM)
# 4. By Rabbi Lazar getting involved you so correctly write:
he is placing millions of Jews in greater danger! The battle is to be fought from the USA by those appointed by the Rebbe, and his attorneys, not by a rabbi in Russia. Had he stepped out of the picture he would never had brought the entire Jewry of Russia into the whirlpool! That is what he has done, in addition to harming the Rebbe's cause re the sforim. And sir at #4 do not downplay the Rebbe's library as you write. Stop with your inverted mindset attributing danger to lives to retrieving the Rebbe's library! Are you one of the mraglim of today, pitting your own agenda against that of Moshe Rabbenu of our time to bring the geula to his holy sforim and the entire Jewish people?
(6/13/2013 7:48:43 PM)
Here we go
So now what happens? Does everyone now go online to comment against r' lazar? Or do people support him? Perhaps everyone should bash him, because from the angle they see it, it seems he's going against the Rebbe. Seriously people, between this story and the other one regarding the library, we'd think it's time that you'd realize it's not all the way you, the commenter/s, see it. Most things aren't as simple as they seems.
(6/13/2013 8:07:47 PM)
The Rebbe was very clear about his wishes. This spits in the face of his teachings. I hope the shaliach is working on a full solution and that he views this as just a step towards the ultimate goal
(6/13/2013 8:08:50 PM)
to #2
since when was the lawyers appointed by the rebbe?
thy came in to the case just a couple years ago .

in rabbi levins book page 438 it said that ones thy ask the rebbe about having the a Lubavitcher library in Russia with the sfarim and the rebbe answered to ask the askanim and rabanim that understand about this

so it was not something the rebbe said no to
(he asked before and the rebbe said no
but lather in shvat 5752 he got the above answer
(6/13/2013 8:33:40 PM)
re books
Sadly books from the collection are being snuck out of Russia and sold in the USA I have seen with my own eyes seforim from the collection ..
(6/13/2013 8:34:29 PM)
Respect Chief Rabbi
Rabbi Lazar is a great leader of Jews in Russia and of Chabad worldwide, someone that is 100% given over to the Rebbe's work!
(6/13/2013 8:40:15 PM)
Very Worrying
While I understand the idea that perhaps confrontation is not the best way to get results with the Russians ( as was the Rebbe's shita all the years), it is hard to believe accepting and celebrating this 'compromise' offered by Putin is a step in the right direction.
Everyone agrees that the ultimate goal is to have the Seforim back in 770. I don't think Putin has that in mind with this idea in which case this step can only be a holding back tactic.

The whole world knows Putin is up to no good, why is it that Rabbi Lazar can't see that?
I understand that there might be problems with Shluchims visas etc. but if there's one thing that the Rebbe taught us it's NEVER to compromise on the issues of importance!
(6/13/2013 8:43:40 PM)
to #14
Can you please translate that?
For those who dont understand hebrew, and want to understand what the rebbes view on this was!!
(6/13/2013 9:54:21 PM)
my take...
perhaps if we all start learning the Rebbe's Sichos, especially those connected with the Geula, as per the Rebbe's request, we will merit to see the sefarim back where they belong - in 770!!!
(6/13/2013 9:55:18 PM)
Too much to lose
During the lifetime of the Rebbe Chabad did not have a chief Rabbi who was able to influence the lives of so many Yidden.Starting up now with Putin jeopardizes the Yiddeshkeit of untold numbers of Jews.
To believe that the Rebbe would now want the chief Rabbi fighting Putin is beyond insane
(6/13/2013 10:30:50 PM)
Laaniyas Dayti
1) Possession is 90% of the law. In Torah, a muchzak, and hamotzi mechveiro, are strong positions.

2) Does anyone really think that the Russians care enough to remember all this, in years down the track? After Putin. Right ow it is a matter of honor, and they didn't want to surrender completely. In the future there will be no honor lost by bringing them to aguch location in NY.

3) There is an inyan in having the seforim where they will be used for Torah and not just scholarly research. This alone is a pidyon shvuyim. Would anyone protest with indignation if M. Rubashkin were released on parole, needed a GPS lock, and had to report weekly to a facility? And how much easier would it then be to seek a full pardon?

4) Aguch needs to say what they are saying. There is no need to compromise. However, Rabbi Lazar has an obvious personal relationship with Putin (in one of the pics Putin is holding Lazar's elbow in a paternal type gesture.) He needs to tread lightly - for who knows what else may be in store fore yidden there in the future. Besides, it is entirely possible that he tried to steer Putin away from this solution, but saw he would be too offended if this was not accepted as a Solomonic decision of deep wisdom. Gey veiss.
(6/13/2013 11:02:43 PM)
To #15
Here you go:


Answer from the Rebbe about plans for a library in Moscow

Tuesday afternoon, 16 Shevat, Library
I wrote a letter about the seforim, and the Rebbe answered this afternoon:

Dear R. Yehudah Leib ' Groner,

Greetings and blessings!

Following up on our discussion, I am acting according to your suggestion and writing the question which is currently relevant:

We now stand at a crossroads, and must decide whether to turn to the right or to the left. To us, the members of the delegation, the situation is not at all clear, and there are differences of opinion. In my humble opinion it seems that not reaching a clear consensus may lead us down a dead end and make it hard to fix things later.

I refer, with all of the above, to what was recently decided: to set up an academy, a university and a library in our shul...

In my opinion there was never a directive [from the Rebbe] to agree to such a plan, and there is great doubt whether this will lead to the return of the seforim, or whether it will prevent their return with our official agreement. Who knows whether later on it will be too late to change anything.

For this reason, I never signed any document that could be understood as consenting to the said plan, and I don't know how to act in the future - if there is no clear decision and strong stand on this matter, whether to turn to the right or the left.

The Rebbe answered:

According to the advice of [u]askonim[/u] and rabbonim of Anash who are knowledgeable in this. I will mention it at the tziyun.


So #10 is correct: the Rebbe most certainly did not reject such a compromise out of hand. All of the commenters who claim that R. Lazar is going against the Rebbe, etc., owe him an apology. (And in general, it is well to realize - this is especially addressed to #6 - that as much as our Rebbeim were idealists ( , , , etc.) - they were also pragmatic about the steps needed to get things accomplished.)
(6/13/2013 11:28:28 PM)
Sruly C
Rabbi Lazar is a HUGE HERO,

Who would have ever imagined that Putin would even go this far.
It's all a Ruchniyos Gzayra that the Seforim were not sent to NY years back, why should Russian Goyim want the holy books of Chabad rebbes.
(6/13/2013 11:44:22 PM)
no need to make this too complicated
Let's see what happens with the US judgement and the $50k a day fine. If Lubavitch drops the case it means we accept Putin's decision wholeheartedly. If the fine remains in place and grows by the day and Putin needs to worry about 'Russian Treasures' being confiscated if they are on loan to the US, we know that Chabad has not given up on the Seforim returning to its rightfull owners. As long as Rabbi Lazaar cannot make the desicion to move the seforim to where sees fit, the seforim cannot be said to be in Chabad ownership.
(6/14/2013 12:03:04 AM)
a famous Rebbe's position
There is a famous Rebbe's position that Russia is useless and harmful to press, but it is possible to agree on silent. From these considerations, the Rebbe at the time opposed the demonstrations in defense of the Jews of Russia, etc. (in detail - in the book of the Rebbe and the Mossad.) In this context, the Aguh actions are at least strange
(6/14/2013 2:31:35 AM)
So we have a Bal mesiras Nefesh R' Kogen saying one thing and a PAID non Lubavitch lawyer saying something else... I think I know whom I hold with...
(6/14/2013 2:46:32 AM)
The Rebbe speaks about the books
(6/14/2013 2:52:12 AM)
Who is Chabad?
At this point entering the 20th year since Gimel Tammuz what really makes New York more Chabad then Russia? We don't have a live Rebbe at either location, we are sort of like after the Tzemach Tzedek I am sure alot of his sons got some of his Sefarim.
(6/14/2013 3:02:24 AM)
Regarding Rebbe Rayatz Letter
There is a Letter from Rebbe Rayatz to Soviet government regarding this archive, it is now part of the museum , its photograph is published in various Russian Chabad Internet sources. From this letter it is clear that Rebbe Rayatz was ready to go to any compromise to get any part of the library. I know that you will say that was different time. To which I will say - now is also different time.
(6/14/2013 3:31:01 AM)
Solomonic decision
Lazar chose his words carefully. This is indeed a Solomonic decision -- we are being offered half a child. And remember who won that case -- the one who rejected the compromise, not the one who accepted it.
(6/14/2013 5:47:41 AM)
Chaim Ber
The Seforim Saga is a metaphor, Chabad is in its own unique Golus, our post Gimmel Tammuz world.
I f the Rebbe was here Lazar would not have agreed to this arrangement, however in the present circumstances, he is caught, Chabad in Russia needs Putin's support
Only time will tell , we need to wait to see what the next move will be.
(6/14/2013 10:23:20 AM)
: . .
Can someone approach berel levin and ask him the folowing questions?
1) how did aguch understand the answer at the time?
2) Who are the askanim and rabbanim they spoke to at the time?
3) what was their answer?

(6/14/2013 10:34:02 AM)
To bring clarity to all those confused by
the compromisers on this site, we hereby translate the words spoken by The Rebbe publicly on 5 Teves 5752:
At this time there is a group of sforim together with hand written documents with these sforim that are awaiting their release from captivity to be returned to their truthful owner who is the leader of the generation my father-in-law, to be returned to his 4 cubits, which are the four cubits of the House of prayer, house of learning and house of good deeds [especially house of kindness], to Beis Rabbeinu Sebbovel [770].
(6/14/2013 12:31:28 PM)
I thought the books all get scanned before being transferred to the museum. So long as the scanned images are made available on a public website for no cost, and I do not know what the arrangements are about the scans, we can at least learn the seforim and catalog them. A full and accurate catalog is a huge deal. The scans are an even more huge deal.
(6/14/2013 12:40:40 PM)
To bring clarity to all those confused
by our compromisers on this site, we hereby translate the words spoken by The Rebbe MHM publically on 5 Teves 5752:
At this time there is a group of sforim together with hand written documents with these sforim that are awaiting their release from captivity that they be returned to their truthful owner who is the Nosi of the generation, my father-in-law, to be returned to his 4 cubits, which are one with the four cubits of the Beis haknesses, and house of learning and house of good deeds [especially house of kindness], Beis Rabbeinu Sebbovel [770].
(6/14/2013 12:40:52 PM)
To #10. Kindly do not change the order of the Rebbe's words.
First the Rebbe said 'No'. When asked a second time, the Rebbe said go ask askanim and Rabbonim. Why was the rebbe's first answer not acceptable to those who thought it fit to pressure the Rebbe on the issue after receiving a short clear cut reply? Did you ever Mr # 10 see the sicha of Shlach 5710 where the Rebbe writes lo leshanos es haseder? [not to change the order] of priorities of the words of our Rabbeim?
(6/14/2013 12:48:02 PM)
Boruch Nissim
"The office of Agudas Chasidei Chabad said the above statement was not written on their behalf, as they have not made one. "
The law firm was truthful and courageous, aligning themselves with 'The Rebbe, MH"M"
'Aguch' is 'running scared.'
(You can bet, when it comes to Russia's self-interest, in other areas, they are very loud and vocal.)
(6/14/2013 1:48:19 PM)
# 28 et. al. Boruch Nissim
Wrong...declaring the truth, in an honest and forthright manner, will produce good results.
Pandering, flattering falsely, will only strengthen the 'kelopot' and leave you with more difficulties.
Jewish history is replete with such examples.
(6/14/2013 1:51:27 PM)
Boruch Nissim Hoffinger HaKohaine... BS"D
# 21 very smart answer.
(6/14/2013 1:53:46 PM)
Boruch Nissim Hoffinger HaKohaine... BS"D
# 3
So, I steal your precious oil paintings, then build a museum or art gallery next to your house, and let you view them.
This OK with you?
Speak truth, with honesty and certainty and EVERYONE will respect you.
(6/14/2013 1:56:24 PM)
confrontation with russian gov,t
I would like RABBI LEVIN to state clearly whether he or any other LUBAVITCHER AASKON had a clear directive from the REBBE to start a legal battle -CONFRONTATION with the RUSSIAN GOV,T ??(regarding the SEFORIM with all the repercussions evolving from it)
(6/14/2013 4:38:15 PM)
Putin is a KGB guy, we need to be careful with him, im sure its not over, but in the mean time the jews in russia have to be on Putins good side in order to live there safely, they cant mess up with him, maybe in 3 years when a new president will be elected, they can try to transfer it to usa, but for now at least its a step forward! Shluchim in Russia youre doing a great job! Hatslacha! and be safe!
(6/15/2013 11:28:41 PM)
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