Barry Gurary (also: Gourary, Sholom Dovber or Berke) (b. in Rostov-on-Don, Russia November 2, 1923, d. Montclair, New Jersey, United States March 3, 2005) was the only son of Rabbi Shemaryahu Gurary and Chana Gurary, who was the elder daughter of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn.
Family origins and history
Barry Gurary was the only son of Rabbi Shmaryahu Gurary, and the only grandson of Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn, who was the sixth Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement. Barry was also the only nephew of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson (1901–1988) and her husband, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902–1994). In 1953 he married Mina Haskind, the daughter of Alter Haskind from a prominent Chabad family. Rabbi Menachhem Mendel and his wife Chaya Mushka did not attend the marriage ceremony.
Barry Gurary's family relationship with the Rebbe was a source of struggle and friction to himself, the Gurary families and the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community.
Place in Chabad-Lubavitch
One year after the death of sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson became the choice of most Lubavitchers as the seventh Rebbe of the movement, while Rabbi Shemaryahu Gurary, Barry Gurary's father, held on to the same positions he had in the past, and was loyal to his brother-in-law, who had become the seventh and was to be the last Rebbe of Chabad.
The only grandson of the sixth Rebbe
On the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah, his grandfather held a farbrengen. The farbrengen was attended by many thousands of Chassidim from across Eastern Europe and Russia. The Bar Mitzva was seen as a milestone for the Gurary dynasty. Special photographers were invited and the speech that Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak gave was published.
A dispute arose about the library of the sixth Rebbe between Barry Gurary (supported by his mother) and the Chabad community, led by his uncle the seventh Rebbe (and supported by the "Rashag", Barry's father). Barry's grandfather, the sixth Rebbe, collected a vast library of Judaica, which included several hundred rare volumes. As the sixth Rebbe's grandson, Barry believed he was entitled to a portion of the library and was supported in this belief by his mother and Rabbi Chaim Lieberman (the sixth Rebbe's librarian).
In 1984, some 34 years after his grandfather's death, Barry Gurary entered the library and clandestinely removed numerous Jewish books, including a first edition Passover Haggadah worth over $50,000 and began selling the books. One illuminated Passover Haggadah dating back to 1757 was sold for $69,000 to a Swiss book dealer who soon found a private buyer to pay nearly $150,000 for it. He claimed to have both his mother's permission, as well as the permission of his aunt, the seventh Rebbe's wife, to take the books. She however denied ever giving Barry any such permission. However, his uncle, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Chabad Rebbe, objected vehemently to these actions and demanded that the volumes be returned. When Barry refused, also refusing his uncle's summons to Beth Din, Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Krinsky consulted rabbinic authorities on Jewish law who advised him that appeals can be made to a secular governmental court if justice cannot be effectuated in a Jewish court. On legal advice the Lubavitchers decided to obtain a temporary restraining order in the hope that this would resolve the matter.
Rabbi Schneerson argued that the volumes were not the "personal possession" of Gurary's grandfather, but the "communal property" of the Lubavitch Hasidim. This argument was supported by a letter from his father-in-law indicating that the books were the heritage of the entire Jewish community. The organizational body that represents Lubavitch Chassidim - Agudas Chasidei Chabad (ACC), filed suit to retrieve the books.
During the court hearing, Gurary's father supported his uncle's side, while his mother supported her son, Barry Gurary.
In 1986, the court ruled in favor of Agudas Chassidei Chabad, and that ruling was upheld on appeal in 1987. The volumes were returned to the library.
This day was accepted as a special time of rejoicing for Lubavitch, which they called Didan Notzach .
Barry Gurary studied and did research as a physicist at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University. He also published research papers mostly in physics that are also available on the Internet, in some instances more than fifty years after their publication:
- Chmouel Lubecki: "Didan Notzach"
- Sholom Ber Levin: "Mishpat HaSfarim"
- Moshe Bogomilsky: "The story of Hey Teves"
- Pesach Burston: "Tshura - Hey Teves - South Africa"
- Shaul Shimon Deutsch, Larger than Life
- Avrum M. Ehrlich, Leadership in the HaBaD Movement ISBN 0-7657-6055-X