A group of young Hasidic Jewish men has been uncovered for constructing a peculiar tunnel beneath a century-old synagogue in Brooklyn. Footage posted on CrownHeights.Info’s Instagram takes viewers through stairs and hallways, revealing a dirt-filled room with a removed grate, leading to a 3-foot-high dirt tunnel spanning about 50 feet. The tunnel allegedly connects to the headquarters’ abandoned men’s ritual bath.
The rogue members, associated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, reportedly dug the tunnel secretly for nearly a year. The goal was purportedly to reach the deserted ritual bath and “expand” the synagogue. The tunnel’s existence was only revealed last month when neighbors reported suspicious noises.
Rabbi Motti Seligson, Chabad-Lubavitch spokesman, stated that the group broke through walls to gain unauthorized access, leading to their arrest. Efforts to regain control of the premises through the New York State court system have been prolonged.
Following the discovery, a riot erupted as the synagogue leadership called in cement mixers to fill in the tunnel. Renegade men tried to resist, tearing down wood panels. At least a dozen were taken into custody, with charges ranging from criminal misdemeanors to obstructing governmental administration.
The clash adds to the controversies surrounding the site, which was once the headquarters and former home of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, involving ownership disputes and previous violent incidents. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement expressed distress and hopes to restore the sanctity of the holy place promptly.