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House Sends Letter on Schneerson Collection

Three months after the Senate sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin urging him to return the Schneerson Collection to the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish community, the House has sent a letter urging the Russian government to return the books and manuscripts.

Led by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), more than 300 Members signed the letter, which was delivered to Putin on President Bush’s trip to Russia to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Nazi surrender.

“We think we may have set a record for the most signatures on a letter to a foreign leader, and perhaps the most signatures ever on a House letter,” Zahava Goldman, legislative assistant to Waxman, said in an e-mail last week.

The collection comprises Jewish texts and manuscripts that have been held in the Russian State Library and the Russian Military Archives. One portion of the collection was seized during the Bolshevik Revolution and the other by the Nazis in Poland. The Soviet Army removed them at the end of World War II.

“It is particularly fitting that we are sending this letter on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, because many of the books were taken by the Nazis during the Holocaust,” Waxman said in a statement.

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe held a hearing on this issue April 6. The Russian government did not send a representative, but the Russian embassy provided a statement to the commission, saying that the documents were “of great importance to the Russian nation” and that they are part of “Russian cultural heritage.”

National Trust Honors D.C. Preservationists

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and other preservation organizations honored the work of some of D.C.’s preservation volunteers Thursday at the Arts Club of Washington.

The National Trust, the D.C. Historic Preservation Office, the D.C. Preservation League and the Association of Preservation Technology D.C. Chapter presented the “Preservation Month 2005 Volunteer Recognition Awards” to volunteers during its first official Preservation Month.

The volunteers honored included Kindy French of the Sheridan-Kalorama Historical Association; Cris Fromboluti of Historic Chevy Chase, D.C.; Hayden Wetzel of the D.C. Preservation League; and Kathleen Sinclair Wood of the Cleveland Park Historical Society.

The National Trust created Preservation Week in 1971 to “spotlight grassroots preservation efforts around the country.”

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C-SPAN Launches ‘Nuclear’ Web Page

As the Senate battle over judicial nominations continues to heat up and Members on both sides debate the use of the “nuclear” option to end filibusters, C-SPAN has launched a new Web page entirely dedicated to what could be the biggest Senate battle in years.

Launched last week, the site can be accessed by visiting and clicking on “Judicial Nominations” under the Featured Topics section. The page will be updated daily with new video and footage from C-SPAN archives and will include such features as links to nominee biographies, a picture gallery and other information about the U.S. judiciary.

New Program to Aid D.C. Small Businesses

D.C. small businesses will get a big boost from the city government on Tuesday when D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams (D) and Members of the City Council launch the D.C. Certified Capitol Company Program, which will provide $50 million in venture capital for District-based small businesses.

It is hoped that the three CAPCO venture funds, which will be managed by professional venture capitalists, will help stimulate the creation of high-wage jobs as well as provide an incentive to retain, expand and attract business to the city.

A ceremony kicking off this new economic development program will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the first floor auditorium of One Judiciary Square, 441 Fourth St. NW.

— Megan King and John McArdle

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