Steve DiGioia

An Attempt to Expand the Synagogue Instead Became an Act of Vandalism and Disgrace

A secret tunnel was discovered in Brooklyn under the historic Synagogue which became a confusing incident for the world.

The incident took place at the Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn. It became a site of protest between the police and the worshippers when the police entered the area to arrest the suspects.

The Movement

The Synagogue serves as the key to a Hasidic Jewish movement in Crown Heights. The site has a well-known history and deeply resonates the teachings and the struggles of Jews while it also receives thousands of visitors from all religions.  

The movement is based on the teachings of the leaders of the Chabad-Lubavitch. It is one of the world’s best-known Hasidic movements along with one of the largest Jewish religious organizations in the world and used by many students and religious leaders.

The details of the Incident 

According to the locals and the police, the tunnel was recently built in secret, connecting the basement of an abandoned building to the Synagogue. Motti Seligson, a spokesperson from Chabad said that the unauthorized tunnel passed through various offices and lecture halls before connecting to the site. The formation of the tunnel was described as a “rogue act of vandalism” committed by young men.

The discovery of the tunnel was on Monday, while the group’s leaders tried to seal the tunnel off with cement while the police went in for the arrest, the men started protesting as they ripped a wall of the Synagogue. It remained closed with barricades on Tuesday by the NYPD as they searched for any damage done to the property.

The Arrest

The police tried to pacify the men to leave the entrance of the tunnel, but, refusing the plea, the officers covered the area with a white curtain and entered the tunnel to make the arrest, according to the witnesses.

Nine young men in the community were arrested ranging from 19 to 22 charged with criminal mischief and obstructing governmental administration according to the police. The rest three also were summoned for their misbehaviour.

Many called it an act of vandalism and unauthorized access to the sanctuary 

while others supported the tunnel as an “expansion” carried out to fulfil the envisioned plan of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the former head of the Chabad movement.

He was the head of the Chabad movement for more than four decades before he died in 1994 and had helped in the re-establishment of the community grieving the Holocaust.

The reason for the support 

The supporters argued about the lack of space and overcrowding of the place. The tunnel was an attempt to add more area which started in late December.

The protest turned violent when the police arrested the first man according to Baruch Dahan, a 21-year-old student at the Synagogue. He said there was a lot of chaos on the scene, while he recorded it.

The footage was posted on social media showing the protesters, who were mostly young men taunting the police officers, while some lifted the desks and scattered their prayer books. As a result, the police had used an irritating spray to control the situation.

However, the illegal construction of the tunnel is under investigation as the confusion drowns both the Religious leaders, the community and the police.

According to a spokesperson, the community felt disgraced and ashamed as instead of helping in expansion, the men destroyed the sanctuary.

The Synagogue, NYPD, Chabad-Lubavitch Incident, Violent Protest, Jewish Community, Hasidic Jews, Act of Vandalism

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