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Letter from Shelley Berkley (Washington, D.C.) to President George W. Bush, May 14, 2008, regarding the Schneerson Collection (2 pages)



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SHELLEY BERKLEY COMMITTEES: 1ST DISTRICT, NEVADA W A Y S A N D M E A N S SUBCOMMITTEE ON INCOME SECURITY AND FAMILY SUPPORT 4 0 5 CANNON HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON, D C 2 0 5 1 5 ( 2 0 2 ) 2 2 5 - 5 9 6 5 FAX: ( 2 0 2 ) 2 2 5 - 3 1 1 9 Congress of the United States Washington, BC 20515-2801 V E T E R A N S ' A F F A I R S SUBCOMMITTEE ON HEALTH SUBCOMMITTEE ON DISABILITY AND MEMORIAL AFFAIRS SUBCOMMITTEE ON TRADE 2 3 4 0 PASEO DEL PRADO SUITE D 1 0 6 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA 8 9 1 0 2 ( 7 0 2 ) 2 2 0 - 9 8 2 3 FAX: ( 7 0 2 ) 2 2 0 - 9 8 4 1 CAUCUSES: CO-CHAIR, GAMING CAUCUS CO-CHAIR, STOP DUI CAUCUS CO-CHAIR, TAIWAN CAUCUS May 14, 2008 The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States The White House Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, Like many of my colleagues, I followed your latest meeting with former Russian President Vladimir Putin with great interest. I am writing to share my concern regarding one aspect of the US-Russia relationship that was discussed at Sochi. Moscow remains eager to win the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, and certainly Russia has made great strides in both its immigration policy and its increased religious tolerance. However, while we properly acknowledge these advances for Russian Jewry, it is critical that we also remember the plight of the captive Schneerson Collection. This Collection of sacred Jewish books, archives and manuscripts was gathered by the rabbis of Chabad over the course of 200 years, and it forms a precious part of the group's spiritual heritage. But the Russian government seized these unique texts decades ago, and has kept them ~ uncatalogued, unpreserved, and inaccessible ? in the cellars of the Russian State Library and the Russian State Military Archive. You are already well aware of Moscow's unfulfilled commitments to return the Schneerson Collection to its rightful owners, Agudas Chasidei Chabad of the United States. I strongly applaud your Administration's efforts to remedy this historic injustice, and urge you to continue working as a champion of this worthy cause. Chabad's decades-long quest to retrieve its legacy has deep bipartisan support in Washington: a unanimous Senate has twice appealed to Russia to release the texts, and more than 350 Members of Congress have also petitioned Moscow on this issue. Yet Russia has obstinately ignored our pleas. In fact, Russia has broken its promises in this matter time and again. In 2002, your Administration made a goodwill gesture by returning Russia's historic Smolensk Archive ~ which had previously been linked to the return of the Schneerson Collection ? on the pledge that Moscow would quickly reciprocate by giving back Chabad's texts. Sadly, that still has not come to pass. PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER Now, as we consider the possible repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, Russia must understand Congress' continued desire to see the immediate return of the Schneerson texts. It is essential that the Schneerson Collection be returned to its rightful owners before the repeal of Jackson-Vanik. Mr. President, thank you very much for your consideration ? and thank you once again for all you have done on behalf of Chabad and the cause of religious freedom. Sincerely, SHELLEY B Member of C