Chaotic scenes unfolded at a synagogue in New York on Monday when a group of Jewish men clashed with construction workers attempting to fill an illegally dug tunnel, the Guardian reported. The tunnel was discovered at the world headquarters of the Hasidic movement Chabad, also known as Lubavitch, in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Crown Heights. The tunnel spanned from under the women’s section of the synagogue to a mikvah — a Jewish ritual cleansing bath.
According to the New York Police Department, the group unlawfully entered 770 Eastern Parkway by damaging a wall and tried to stop construction crews from filling in the tunnel. The incident ultimately ended with the arrest of 10 rioters and the temporary shuttering of the synagogue.
Videos that have gone viral on social media show men at the synagogue clashing with police officers and workers. They were also seen damaging the synagogue, pulling down the wood paneling, and throwing prayer benches at police officers. The video also showed a Hasidic man climbing out of what appeared to be a sewer system around the corner from the facility.
Multiple protesters, who refused to vacate the tunnel, were handcuffed and arrested.
Watch the video here:
🚨BREAKING: Underground tunnels were discovered under the Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters in New York.
The secret underground tunnel was found after someone started hearing people in their home.
It is believed the tunnels were made in the past several months in an attempt… pic.twitter.com/OpStNn9GhP
— 🇺🇸 Larry 🇺🇸 (@LarryDJonesJr) January 9, 2024
Why is their a baby highchair in that tunnel???? pic.twitter.com/JKsG4rzUTn
— GBH 🦁☝️ Remilio (@xbtGBH) January 9, 2024
Police said 10 people were arrested for criminal mischief and criminal trespass and one for obstructing governmental administration.
Chabad Lubavitch media director Motti Seligson issued a statement on Tuesday on Twitter saying the damage to the synagogue was caused by “extremist students.”
“Some time ago, a group of extremist students, broke through a few walls in adjacent properties to the synagogue at 784-788 Eastern Parkway, to provide them unauthorized access. Earlier today, a cement truck was brought in to repair those walls. Those efforts were disrupted by the extremists who broke through the wall to the synagogue, vandalizing the sanctuary, to preserve their unauthorized access,” he wrote.
Some time ago, a group of extremist students, broke through a few walls in adjacent properties to the synagogue at 784-788 Eastern Parkway, to provide them unauthorized access. Earlier today, a cement truck was brought in to repair those walls. Those efforts were disrupted by the…
— Motti Seligson (@mottiseligson) January 9, 2024
According to the Independent, the tunnels were built without authorisation from the Chabad leadership. It isn’t clear when or why the tunnel was built, but there are unconfirmed reports that the work took place over the past few years.
After the incident, the synagogue was shut down by the NYPD until further notice.
In an Instagram post Chabad Lubavitch officials wrote: “The Chabad-Lubavitch community is pained by the vandalism of a group of young agitators who damaged the synagogue below Chabad Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway Monday night.”
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