Monday, March 04, 2013

US and Russian Branches of Chabad At Odds Over Putin's Suggested Lawsuit Compromise

As previously reported, U.S. courts have ordered the Russian government to return two expropriated collections of valuable Jewish religious books and manuscripts (the Schneerson Library and the Archive) to the U.S. Chabad organization. Recently Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested a possible compromise-- keeping the portion of the collection that was nationalized by the Bolsheviks in Moscow's Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, a museum controlled by the Russian branch of Chabad.  According to yesterday's Forward, the proposal has placed the Russian and U.S. branches of Chabad at odds. Nathan Lewin, lawyer for the Brooklyn-based branch of Chabad has rejected Putin's suggestion.  However, Boruch Gorin, a spokesman for the Russian Chabad's Federation of Jewish Communities, said that Lewin's rejection of the proposed compromise could be "dangerous [for] the future of the Jewish community in Russia." Gorin says that the U.S.-based Chabad should focus on seeking return only of the Archive, which was seized by the Nazis, and only later by the Red Army. The Library, on the other hand, was nationalized by the Bolshevik government in 1917, and its return would create a more difficult precedent for Russia because of the large amount of property nationalized by the Bolsheviks.