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12th-century Torah missing from Russia’s largest library

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MOSCOW, April 7 (JTA) — A 12th-century Torah scroll, along with dozens of manuscripts and rare books, has been reported missing from the Russian State Library. The first inventory of the library’s manuscript and rare book collection in nearly 20 years revealed that more than 200 items have disappeared during that period, according to the daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. One library employee said the books and manuscripts must have disappeared years ago and were “sold somewhere abroad.” The employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the library – – the nation’s largest — had no money to conduct regular checks of its collections. The lack of funds had resulted in insufficient security and safety measures, the employee added. The Russian State Library, formerly known as the Lenin Library, is where the Schneerson Library has been stored for more than 70 years. The collection — consisting of 12,000 volumes of books and manuscripts that had been collected by five generations of Lubavitcher rebbes — was confiscated in the early 1920s by Soviet authorities and transferred to the Lenin Library. Lubavitch officials have been battling in the Moscow courts since 1990 for the return of the books. It remained unclear whether any portion of the Schneerson Library was among the missing items.

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