US Judge Ordering Russia to Preserve Jewish Texts

WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal judge in Washington is ordering Russia to preserve sacred religious documents that members of a Hasidic Jewish movement are suing to recover and fear could be headed to the black market.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said he would complete an order telling Russia to protect the documents and return any that may already have been removed from the Russian State Military Archives.

The lawsuit was filed by members of Chabad-Lubavitch, which follows the teachings of Eastern European rabbis and emphasizes the study of the Torah. The group is suing Russia in U.S. court to recover thousands of manuscripts, prayers, lectures and philosophical discourses by leading rabbis dating back to the 18th century.

It was unclear how or whether Lamberth's rulings can be enforced. The judge said he agreed to take the case in U.S. court because he considered both the Nazi seizure and the Russian government's appropriation of the archives violations of international law.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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