Close this search box.

United States Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Chabad

fr.jpgWashington, DC – The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Friday that certain parts of a lawsuit brought by Chabad Lubavitch against the Russian government could proceed.

Lubavitch seeks the return of an archive of 18th century Seforim and Kesovim known as the “Schneerson Archive” which the Frierdiker Rebbe managed to take with him when he fled Russia in 1927, but were later seized by the Nazis, and then again stolen and secretly taken back to Moscow by the Russians.

Both parties had appealed a district court ruling that allowed part of the lawsuit dealing with the archive, but dismissed claims against Russia seeking the return of a library of similar texts abandoned in 1915 by rabbis fleeing Russia.

In Fridays ruling, the court affirmed federal jurisdiction over the claims, and allowed the plaintiff’s claims regarding the archive and library texts to proceed to discovery. The court ruled against Russia’s assertions regarding forum non conveniens, sovereign immunity, and act of state doctrine.

The plaintiffs accused Russia of violating international law when the government seized the archive materials from the Nazi regime in 1945. Prior to Russian custody, the religious texts had been seized by the Nazi military in Poland in 1939 and transferred to Germany.

The district court had dismissed Chabad Lubavitch’s claims against Russia for the return of the 1915 library materials, finding that the allegations involved internal Russian matters rather than violations of international law.

(YWN Desk / Washington Post / Crown Heights Info)

4 Responses

  1. This has been an issue of extreme importance for the late Lubavitcher Rebbe Za”tzal. We can’t begin to fathom how much this meant to him with his whole life!! .. To me… it always inspired me and allowed me a glimpse into his greatness… -to see a man of such huge responsibility and magnitude – a man with larger-than-life torah endeavors … — that it should pain him ( in ref to the Lubavitcher’s dynasties’ seforim) so much!! I personally was about 13yrs old in the 80’s when this whole seforim thing happened and there were almost no other times that the Rebbe expressed such pain.

  2. Didan Notzach! Be”h. Indeed, the first line of the news story above contains an understatement: the federal court permitted ALL parts of Chabad’s lawsuit against Russia to proceed, not “certain parts.” Here’s a story that gives a bit more information about what happened —

    Landmark Ruling Clears Way for Chabad to Pursue Recovering Archive of Sacred Books Stolen by Nazis During World War II, Soviet Red Army in U.S. Courts WASHINGTON, June 13

    WASHINGTON, June 13 /PRNewswire/ — In a landmark ruling today, the U.S.
    Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that Agudas
    Chasidei Chabad of United States (Chabad) may pursue its claims in a U.S.
    federal court against the Russian Federation, the Russian Ministry of Culture
    and Mass Communication, the Russian State Library, and the Russian State
    Military Archive to recover a collection of sacred religious books and

    The D.C. Circuit held that a U.S. federal court has jurisdiction over
    Chabad’s claims to recover an archive of sacred books and manuscripts which
    were stolen by the Nazis during World War II and then taken by the Soviet Red
    Army to Moscow in 1945 in violation of international law. In addition, the
    D.C. Circuit cleared the way for Chabad to pursue its claims against the
    Russian Federation to recover a library of sacred, irreplaceable religious
    books which were seized by the Soviets during the Bolshevik Revolution and
    then retaken by the newly formed Russian Federation in 1992 after the collapse
    of the Soviet Union.

    “This is a landmark ruling,” said Marshall Grossman, a partner in Bingham
    McCutchen’s Santa Monica office, who represents Chabad with Bingham partners
    Seth Gerber in Santa Monica and David Salmons in Washington, D.C. “We hope and
    pray that the Russian government will respect it.”

    In addition to the Bingham team, Chabad is represented by Washington
    attorneys Nathan Lewin and Alyza D. Lewin of Lewin & Lewin, LLP, and Wm.
    Bradford Reynolds of Howrey, LLP.

    “The Court of Appeals’ decision clears the way for the Russian government
    to correct a historic wrong that its predecessors have committed against the
    Jewish community. We can only hope that the current Russian authorities will
    now fulfill the assurances that were made to Chabad representatives and to
    United States officials after the Soviet state was replaced with the Russian
    Federation. It should not be necessary to engage in extended litigation for
    the Chabad community, headquartered today in the United States, to recover
    what rightfully belongs to it,” added Nathan Lewin.

    “This is a historic victory for the Rebbe and for all people of faith and
    freedom. These sacred books and manuscripts contain the souls of our Rebbes,
    and of their countless followers who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazi
    and Soviet regimes. We hope and pray the Russian government of today will now
    fulfill its moral and legal obligations to return these sacred texts, ” said
    Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Eliyohu Cunin of Agudas Chasidei Chabad.

    Chabad is headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y., with more than 3,000
    international branches; it is the largest Jewish organization in the world
    today. On November 9, 2004, Chabad filed its lawsuit against the Russian
    Federation, the Russian Ministry of Culture and Mass Communication, the
    Russian State Library, and the Russian State Military Archive, asserting
    violations of international law and seeking the return of its collection of
    sacred, irreplaceable religious books and manuscripts.

    Bingham McCutchen LLP — — is a national law firm with
    global capabilities, with nearly 1,000 attorneys in 13 offices. The firm
    represents clients in cross-border restructurings and insolvencies, high-
    stakes litigation, complex financing and regulatory matters, government
    affairs, and a wide variety of sophisticated corporate and technology

    Based in Washington, D.C., Lewin & Lewin LLP specializes in Supreme Court
    and federal appellate litigation and is available for consultation by lawyers
    and clients in complex criminal and civil matters in federal courts. Lewin &
    Lewin also represents clients and assists attorneys in relations with federal
    legislative, executive and administrative agencies.

    Founded in 1956, Howrey LLP is a global law firm with over 700 attorneys
    and more than 50 economic, financial, and regulatory consultants. Howrey has
    offices in Washington, D.C.; Northern Virginia; Houston, Texas; New York, New
    York; Los Angeles, Irvine, East Palo Alto and San Francisco, California; Salt
    Lake City, Utah; Chicago, Illinois; London, England; Brussels, Belgium; Paris,
    France; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Munich, Germany; Madrid, Spain and Taipei,

    SOURCE Bingham McCutchen LLP

  3. If this case makes it to the highest levels, it would be incredibly historic; A Chassidic movement taking a country (especially as powerful as Russia) to court. When they had the original “didan notzach” it was merely Chabad verses a private citizen, and the case was a huge one.

Leave a Reply

Popular Posts