NYC inspectors identify underground tunnel surrounding Crown Heights synagogue - some members say it is an expansion

The tunnel was constructed without approval and permits from the department.

Katelynn Ulrich

Jan 11, 2024, 11:05 PM

Updated 189 days ago

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Following an investigation that started Tuesday, city inspectors confirm there is a 60-foot-long tunnel beneath a building extension that connects four buildings around the Chabad Lubavitch Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway.
The tunnel was constructed without approval and permits from the department. It was found empty with only dirt and tools and had created structural stability issues at three of the connected buildings. The department issued partial vacate orders for two buildings and a full vacate order for another.
News 12 spoke today with some members outside of the Chabad. Several members told News 12 that it wasn't a tunnel but the beginnings of a room to expand the prayer space in the building. A member anonymously gave News 12 a video allegedly created by the excavators to promote their vision of additional space, showing a finished space with flooring and even emergency exit doors. Some members say expansion is necessary for religious reasons.
"I know that there are hundreds of hundreds of people all over the world that are with it and want it to happen," said Almy Grossman.
While speaking to Grossman, another anonymous member told News 12 that "he doesn't speak for all of us." They went on to say it is a small group of people who support the illegal excavation.
News first broke of the tunnel Monday night when videos of a raucous group inside of the synagogue were posted to Citizen. It showed people flipping tables, pushing each other and police pulling people out of an open space in a wall.
Chabad spokesperson Rabbi Motti Seligson provided News 12 with this statement:
"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.
Earlier today, a cement truck was brought in to repair those walls. Those efforts were disrupted by the extremists who broke through the wall to the synagogue, vandalizing the sanctuary, in an effort to preserve their unauthorized access.
They have since been arrested and the building closed pending a structural safety review. 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. We hope and pray to be able to expeditiously restore the sanctity and decorum of this holy place."
Nine people were arrested and charged with various crimes, including reckless endangerment and attempting a hate crime. The Brooklyn district attorney shared some of the criminal complaints filed.
Those arrested include:
Dahan, Noam
20-year-old male
Criminal Mischief
Reckless endangerment
Hayon, David
22-year-old male
Criminal mischief
Reckless endangerment
Mulakando, Henachem
19-year-old male
Criminal mischief
Reckless endangerment
Malka, Shmuel
19-year-old male
Criminal mischief
Reckless endangerment
Obstruction governmental administration
Shenhav, Dov Bear
20-year-old male
Attempted hate crime/Criminal mischief
Attempted reckless endangerment
Yerachmiel, Blumenfeld
20-year-old male
Attempted hate crime/Criminal mischief
Attempted reckless endangerment
Klieman, Menachem
19-year-old male
Attempted criminal mischief
Attempted reckless endangerment
Koopshik, Menachem
21-year-old male
Attempted criminal mischief
Attempted reckless endangerment
Lahav, Levi Ytzhak
20-year-old male
Attempted criminal mischief
Attempted reckless endangerment


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