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January 10, 2013

Chabad Asks Judge To Fine Russia Over Schneersohn Library Thefts, US Justice Department Argues Fines Would Be Counterproductive

Frierdiker_rebbeUS District Court Chief Judge Royce Lamberth had a quick rejoinder for the Department of Justice lawyer: "How can you be counterproductive from zero?"

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn

This court case has been going on for years. Russia does not accept the authority of a US court, arguing that it is a sovereign nation and US courts have no jurisdiction over it. Chabad wants Russia fined in the hopes that somehow that will get Russia to release the books and manuscripts. The US Government opposes the fines.

The books are, as the AP notes, from two different collections. The second one is familiar to anyone who closely read Bryan Mark Rigg's Rescued From The Reich (Yale University Press). These are the books – many of them secular, like Sherlock Holmes in Yiddish – that the sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn (the Rayyatz), wanted the US to rescue. As he crossed from German-held territory to freedom in Latvia and was handed over to the Americans by the German military intelligence team that had tracked him down in war-ravaged Poland and brought him to the Americans in Latvia, the Rayyatz asked the Americans to go into Poland to rescue his silver, his household goods and his books.

The holy sixth rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch didn't ask the Americans to save any Jews, even though America – which was still neutral when this took place in 1940 – could have done so.

The second half of the books and manuscripts Chabad is fighting for are the books that were more important to the Rayyatz than the lives of Jews. But you won't hear Nathan Lewin talking about this in court.

The AP reports:

…Chabad-Lubavitch…wants the judge to impose civil fines on Russia. The [Justice D]epartment says fines won't help resolve the dispute and in fact would be counterproductive.

Chief Judge Royce Lamberth…had a quick rejoinder: "How can you be counterproductive from zero?"

Justice Department lawyer Joel McElvain said things could go into negative territory, adding that the U.S. government has made progress, albeit "slow and halting," on the matter. He said that fines would amount to a substantial step backward.

"Am I supposed to accept that as intuitive?" the judge asked.

Chabad lawyer Seth Gerber said he was unaware of any negotiations under way to get the materials back.…

Another lawyer for the group, Nathan Lewin, who was in the courtroom, said the fine could be $25,000 or $50,000 a day, although he added he didn't know what the right amount is.

Lewin said that Russia has deprived the members of Chabad access to the materials for a long time.

"I agree with you," said Lamberth, who has frequently issued largely unenforceable multimillion-dollar judgments against foreign governments he believes are hostile to this country and have harmed U.S. citizens,

In addition to arguing that fines would hurt efforts to get the collections returned, Justice Department lawyer McElvain said that fines would be "contrary to our foreign policy interests .... and contrary to international norms." He said they could lead to reciprocal measures against the U.S. in other countries.

There are two collections at issue: 12,000 religious books and manuscripts seized during the Bolshevik revolution and the Russian Civil War nearly a century ago; and 25,000 pages of handwritten teachings and other writings of religious leaders stolen by Nazi Germany during World War II, then transferred by the Soviet Red Army as war booty to the Russian State Military Archive.…


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Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I assume they have their reasons why they are pursing it.

I wish them luck!

make that

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I assume they have their reasons why they are pursuing it.

I wish them luck!

May they should try to beat up Putin. We already know Chabad is capable of beating up 80 year old women over the book collection. Perhaps, they might have better luck with Putin

I don't get it. Isn't Chabad in tight with Putin, who is buddies with Beral Lazar?
They must figure the Russian foreign ministry is too stupid to notice they are playing a double game. And they must be right.

Do they really exist anymore?

So the books were in Poland

Golly that country was overunned over three times
First by the Huns and Red Army. Then by the Huns. Then by the Red Army.

Bryan Brigg's book is nonsense. It's full of contradictions, I wouldn't put much faith in what he writes there.

Posted by: Moshe | January 10, 2013 at 09:11 PM

Fear not, whatever source of information that criticizes Orthodox Jews, especially an Orthodox Jewish leader, must be %100 percent accurate in Shmarya's book.

Bryan Brigg's book is nonsense. It's full of contradictions, I wouldn't put much faith in what he writes there.

Posted by: Moshe

can you list any ?


I love how Lubavitch refers to this family of charlatens (the Schneersohns) with the acronyms of their names to lend them legitimacy. Since Jewish sages throughout history have been referred to by these acronyms ("Rashi", "Rambam", "Ramban"), these Lubavitch idolaters try to bring their "rebbes'" names into legitimacy by referring to them by their acronyms.

His name is actually Bryan Mark Rigg.

In the prologue the Nazis knock on the door and the Rebbe motions to let them in.

On page 113 they break down the door to get in.

The Russians should just do the right thing and give the books back. One would hope though that if Chabad gets the books back they are preserved in appropriate archival/library conditions. I've seen the way Chabad treats books and it is not pretty - just like at any of their siddurim.

This spat does not belong in the American court system. It is none of our business. Our judges should their time protecting American children from local pedophiles rather than injecting themselves the property affairs of the German, Polish and Russian governments. Good fences make good neighbors.

they have to always be a burden on the u.s.a, wicked russia and mostly on the jewish people.
in this case, for what?
a silly library of among others some conan doyle books?
anything to appear as martyrs.
what did some say?
they are paving the way for new x'stianity!

"The Russian government argues it is a sovereign nation and US courts have no jurisdiction over it."

Absolutely correct, and I do not see any freezing of Russian assets by any U.S. Federal court any time over what is essentially a private matter.

I got an idea though, why don't you invite Putin for one of your vodka drinking gatherings and see if that convinces that you guys have a lot of things in common besides corruption? That will be ... your insatiable crave for vodka.

Seriously, how is it that with Putin's help Chabad can dominate Orthodox Judaism in Russia and at the same time sue Russia in the courts of Putin's avowed enemy?
Russia has no love for being take to court in foreign places. Look at what happened to Khordokovsky for claiming compensation over Yukos, or an even better example of Franz Sedelmayer, who has sought just 2M euros from Russia in Germany and Sweden.
This sounds like biting the hand that feeds you, only this hand bites back.

Look at what happened to Khordokovsky for claiming compensation over Yukos, or an even .... that feeds you, only this hand bites back.
oh! eli, this is probably a step by step procedure of converting dictators to accomplished antisemites.

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