A group of Hasidic Jewish men in New York unlawfully broke through the wall of a Synagogue creating a secret tunnel, an act condemned by rabbis who called the men “extremists.” This also sparked riots among police and the group.
Illegal Tunnel Sparks Chaos in Historic Synagogue
A group of men associated with a Hasidic Jewish community in New York faced arrest on Monday after a growing dispute over the discovery of an illegal tunnel covertly dug into the side of a historic synagogue.
The Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters, nestled in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighbourhood, became a scene of chaos as law enforcement clashed with individuals responsible for the clandestine passageway.
Synagogue With Roots in Rabbi Schneerson’s Leadership
The Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters holds profound historical significance, once serving as the residence of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Rabbi Schneerson, a pivotal figure in the Orthodox Jewish movement, led for over four decades until his death in 1994. His leadership revitalized the Hasidic religious community, particularly in the aftermath of the Holocaust.
The building stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesperson for the Chabad, shed light on the situation, referring to the individuals involved as a “group of extremist students” within the movement.
According to Seligson, these individuals secretly breached the walls of a vacant building behind the headquarters, creating an underground passage that snaked beneath office buildings and lecture halls, ultimately connecting to the synagogue.
Secret Tunnel Construction Unveiled
Revealed by Rabbi Seligson, the tunnel construction triggered chaos within the Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters. As a construction crew attempted repairs, they were met with opposition from the very students who had engineered the covert passageway.
Seligson described how these extremists disrupted repair efforts by breaking through the wall into the synagogue, resulting in vandalism within the sacred space. The motive behind the construction of this secret tunnel remains shrouded in mystery.
Extremists Disrupt Repair Efforts
Efforts to repair the damaged walls and address the unauthorized tunnel construction were met with strong opposition from the extremist students.
Seligson described how the individuals broke through the Synagogue walls after the repair efforts, “Earlier today, a cement truck was brought in to repair those walls,” Seligson said, “Those efforts were disrupted by the extremists who broke through the wall to the synagogue, vandalizing the sanctuary, in an effort to preserve their unauthorized access.”
The act of vandalism shocked the city, with everyone questioning the motive behind such acts. “This is, obviously, deeply distressing to the Lubavitch movement, and the Jewish community worldwide. We hope and pray to be able to expeditiously restore the sanctity and decorum of this holy place,” Seligson continued.
Arrests Made for Criminal Mischief and Trespassing
The New York Police Department (NYPD) intervened swiftly in response to the disorderly group’s actions. Those allegedly responsible for the tunnel construction faced charges of criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and obstructing governmental administration.
Out of the 12 individuals arrested, four found themselves facing charges associated with criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. Simultaneously, two individuals faced charges involving both an attempted hate crime and criminal mischief.
A separate group of three faced charges specifically linked to attempted criminal mischief. An additional three were taken into custody on grounds of disorderly conduct, according to information provided by the New York Police Department.
City Inspectors Assess Safety Risks
Amid concerns about the structural integrity of the building, city inspectors were called in to conduct an emergency inspection. As police officers maintained a presence behind barricades, blocking entry into the headquarters, inspectors assessed potential risks.
The closure of the building pending a thorough structural safety review signalled the gravity of the situation, stressing the need for a comprehensive examination of the Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters’ infrastructure.
Anonymous Tip Raises Questions
An intriguing element in this unfolding saga was an anonymous tip about the tunnel’s location sent to the New York City Fire Department a month before the incident.
However, when a fire prevention team responded, they found all exits to be operable and up to code, as revealed by Amanda Farinacci, a spokesperson for the agency.
The apparent discrepancy between the tip and the subsequent discovery of the tunnel raises questions about the awareness within the community and relevant authorities.
The investigation is ongoing as city officials work diligently to unravel the mystery behind the illicit tunnel and its connection to the historic synagogue.
The post Tensions and Arrests Erupt Over Illicit Synagogue Tunnel first appeared on Edge Media.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Lennox Wright.