Controversial Secret Tunnel in Brooklyn Synagogue Sparks Arrests and Brawl

NEW YORK – A group of men belonging to a Hasidic Jewish community in New York were arrested on Monday following a dispute over an illegal tunnel that was secretly dug into a historic synagogue. The incident escalated into a brawl between the police and individuals who had created the passageway and wanted it to remain.

The Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters, located in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, became the center of the chaos as Jewish leaders and law enforcement clashed with what Rabbi Motti Seligson called a “group of extremist students.” The building holds significant religious and historical value as the former residence of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who led the Chabad-Lubavitch for over four decades.

According to Seligson, these rebel students had covertly breached the walls of a vacant building behind the headquarters, constructing an underground passage that eventually connected to the synagogue. A construction crew was tasked with repairing the damaged walls on Monday, but their efforts were met with opposition from the students who had created the tunnel. In their attempt to preserve their unauthorized access, the extremists vandalized the sanctuary of the synagogue.

The motive behind the creation of the tunnel remains undisclosed. However, the New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed that those responsible for its construction were arrested for criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and obstructing governmental administration. City inspectors were called to conduct an emergency structural inspection, leading to the closure of the building pending review.

The incident captured attention when an anonymous tip regarding the tunnel’s location was sent to the New York City Fire Department last month. However, upon inspection, all exits were found to be operable and up to code. NYPD spokespersons reported that officers were called to the scene on Monday afternoon to handle the disorderly group trespassing and damaging a wall.

The closure of the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters signifies a need for a thorough review by city inspectors to ensure the building’s structural safety. As the investigation continues, it remains unclear what consequences or charges the arrested individuals will face.