Chabad in Israel suing Russia, trying to block Jerusalem property transfer

The new appeal to Israel follows the Moscow government’s demand that it regain ownership of properties in Jerusalem built by Russia in the 19th century.


For the first time in Israel, Chabad has commenced legal proceedings against Russia and is demanding to halt the transfer of the Alexander Nevsky Church in Jerusalem to Russia until it agrees to release the historical “Schneerson Collection” library.

The Association of Chabad in the U.S. has appealed to Israel’s Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara demanding a freeze in the procedures for the transfer of ownership of real estate in Jerusalem to the Russian government until it returns the “Schneerson Collection” to Chabad, which they say is being held illegally by Russia.

In a letter written by attorney Uri Kedar representing Chabad, he explained that the “Schneerson Collection” is a historical collection that includes approximately 12,000 books and original writings, which were gradually collected and preserved by Chabad from the end of the 18th century until today.

This is a unique collection of its kind and “is a heritage asset for the entire Jewish people, in a way that goes beyond the boundaries of Chabad Hasidism,” he noted.

“For historical reasons, since the end of World War I, the Schneerson Collection has been in the possession of the government in Russia, which was formerly the Soviet regime in the Soviet Union, and now the Russian government,” the letter explains.

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Chabad has been demanding for decades that Moscow return the Schneerson Collection to the Chabad Hasidic Center, currently located in the U.S.

So far, a series of judgments and decisions have been issued in the U.S. against the Russian government, ordering it to return the collection, including the imposition of a significant fine for contempt of court that currently stands at approximately $170 million.

The new appeal to Israel follows the Moscow government’s demand that it regain ownership of properties in Jerusalem built by Russia in the 19th century.

“The Schneerson Collection has historical Jewish importance, and therefore it is only natural that the State of Israel will mobilize for this historic task, and will do everything in its power on the legal and practical level, to assist my client’s worldwide efforts to return the Schneerson Collection to its possession at the Chabad Hasidic Center in the U.S.,” Kedar wrote.

“Freeze all activity for the transfer of ownership of properties in Israel to the Russian government, and in particular the Alexander Nevsky Court, until the move that my client is promoting to return the Schneerson Collection as a whole to its possession will be successfully completed,” Kedar demanded.

Rabbi Shlomo Kunin, a member of the special team appointed by the late Chabad leader to return the books, said that “the Rebbe assigned us the task of returning the books from Russia.”

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“We have no doubt that the task will be completed as he wishes and that the books will be returned to the Rebbe’s library whether the Russians like it or not, and there is no delay or obstacle that will stand in our way to carrying out this holy task,” he said.