The Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Brooklyn, New York erupted in chaos on Tuesday as police and members of the Jewish temple faced off against a “group of extremist students,” the Guardian reported.
The Chabad is home to the Hasidic Jewish community in New York who have studied the Orthodox Judaism for more than four decades, according to Rabbi Motti Seligson in the report.
Trouble allegedly came after a group of young students from within the movement dug tunnels to access the synagogue.
The rebel students dug tunnels through the vacant building behind the headquarters, Seligson told the Guardian.
This created an underground passageway beneath a section of buildings before connecting to the synagogue.
On Monday, Rabbi Seligson had a construction team repair the damages but the rebel students who dug the tunnel were there to block them, which is when the conflict started.
It was not immediately clear what purpose the tunnels were meant to serve.
New York police responded after hearing about a disorderly group that was trespassing and damaging a wall, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Police reportedly bargained with the group of men, asking them to vacate the area but were unsuccessful and decided to detain them.
A 21-year-old student at the synagogue, Baruch Dahan, told AP that when the police pulled out their zip ties and handcuffs, people started pushing and shoving.
Nine of the so-called rebel students between the ages of 19 and 22 were arrested, AP reported.
“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,” Rabbi Motti Seligson wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
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…— Motti Seligson (@mottiseligson) January 9, 2024
The building that housed the basement-level Chabad was closed and is under inspection.
While the synagogue elders labelled the suspects as extremists, a younger member told AP that they acted in the interest of the temple, and wanted to expand.
Social media is in a frenzy with videos and images of the chaos circulating accompanied by wild theories as to the purpose of the tunnels.