Students disrupt attempt to fill tunnel under synagogue in New York

secret tunnel closure disrupted by extremist students

NEW YORK: In a startling turn of events on Monday night, chaos unfolded within the confines of a synagogue in New York City’s Crown Heights neighbourhood.

A group of students, identified as “extremists,” forcibly entered the Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, attempting to thwart construction crews from filling in a secret tunnel.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) swiftly responded to the scene after the group unlawfully entered the building by damaging a wall, as reported by an NYPD spokesperson to Newsweek.

Disturbing videos circulating on social media depict individuals tearing down wood panelling and engaging in confrontations with law enforcement officers inside the synagogue.

According to the Jewish publication Forward, the group’s objective was to prevent the sealing of a tunnel discovered in December.

The tunnel extended from beneath the women’s section of the synagogue to a mikvah, a Jewish ritual cleansing bath, located on Union Street. Synagogue leadership had previously decided to close off the women’s section pending a decision on securing the building.

The discovery of the tunnel had been reported by a news outlet in December. In response, efforts were initiated to repair the walls adjacent to the synagogue using a cement truck.

However, the extremists disrupted these repairs, breaking through the wall to the synagogue and vandalising the sanctuary in an attempt to preserve their unauthorised access.

Multiple arrests were made by the NYPD, and charges are pending against those involved. Fortunately, no injuries were reported during the incident.

Rabbi Motti Seligson, the media director of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, expressed deep distress over the situation, revealing that the movement had been attempting to gain proper control of the premises through the New York State court system.

Despite consistently prevailing in court, the process has been protracted over the years.

“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,” stated Rabbi Seligson.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, extended gratitude to the NYPD for their professionalism and sensitivity.

He emphasised that the community is pained by the actions of the vandals and reassured them that the sanctity of the synagogue will be restored through a thorough investigation.

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