Federal Judge Charles P. Sifton, whose 1987 landmark decision cemented communal ownership of the priceless library of Agudas Chasidei Chabad, the umbrella group of Chabad-Lubavitch, against an individual’s claims of private inheritance, passed away Monday at the age of 74.

With a career spanning more than 30 years, Sifton, according to The New York Times, issued rulings affecting the gender makeup of the New York Fire Department and allowing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to run for a third term.

But it was his involvement in the library case that earned him fame in Chasidic circles. On Jan. 6, 1987, corresponding to the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Teves, the jurist ordered the return of priceless volumes and manuscripts that had been taken from the library at Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In his decision, Sifton ruled that the library’s collections – amassed over the years by succeeding generations of Lubavitch Rebbes – belonged to the movement, as did the succeeding Rebbes themselves.