Dramatic footage circulated on social media on Monday of New York City police officers arresting young Orthodox men who rioted, overturning benches and otherwise obstructing construction at 770 Eastern Parkway, the Brooklyn, N.Y. headquarters of the Chabad-Lubvatich movement.
The “young agitators,” as Chabad referred to them, reportedly sought to protect “a secretive tunnel they illegally dug to reach a closed-down women’s bath” to gain access to a Chabad synagogue.
“These odious actions will be investigated, and the sanctity of the synagogue will be restored,” stated Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, 90, the movement’s chairman. “Our thanks to the NYPD for their professionalism and sensitivity. We are grateful for the outpouring of concern and for the support of our Chabad-Lubavitch institutions around the world.”
Motti Seligson, director of media at Chabad, posted that “some time ago, a group of extremist students broke through a few walls in adjacent properties to the synagogue at 784-788 Eastern Parkway to provide them unauthorized access.”
When a cement truck was brought to repair the walls, the effort was disrupted by agitators who “broke through the wall to the synagogue, vandalizing the sanctuary, in an effort to preserve their unauthorized access.”
Those individuals “have since been arrested and the building closed pending a structural safety review,” Seligson said. “Lubavitch officials have attempted to gain proper control of the premises through the New York State court system; unfortunately, despite consistently prevailing in court, the process has dragged on for years.”
“This is, obviously, deeply distressing to the Lubavitch movement, and the Jewish community worldwide,” he added. “We hope and pray to be able to expeditiously restore the sanctity and decorum of this holy place.”