(JTA) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said the transfer of Jewish texts claimed by the Chabad movement to a newly opened Jewish museum should put to rest a dispute with the movement and the United States.
“For the Jewish people, Russia has been a homeland for centuries, as it remains so today,” the Reuters news agency quoted Putin as saying Thursday, while touring the new exhibit.
The move should “put an end to this problem once and for all,” Putin said.
As of Thursday, the museum was housing 500 texts in the collection; the remainder of some 4,500 texts should arrive by the end of the year.
Chabad officials have noted that Moscow’s Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, while under Jewish administration, remains part of the Russian state library system. The group remains committed to U.S. court rulings ordering compliance with the wishes of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late leader of the movement, that the collection be moved to its headquarters in New York.
A U.S. judge in January ordered Russia to pay $50,000 a day in fines for failing to honor a 2010 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Washington to hand over the historic collection of 12,000 books and 50,000 documents to the New York-based movement.
Since 1991, leaders of the group have been trying to regain possession of the library of Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, who led the Chabad movement before his death in 1950.
Part of the collection was nationalized by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and eventually joined the Russian State Library collection. Schneerson managed to take the other part of the collection from the Soviet Union when emigrating in the 1930s.
About 25,000 pages of manuscripts from the collection were later seized by the Nazis. They were regained by the Red Army and handed over to the Russian State Military Archive.