Chaos in 770 as extremists vandalize shul, mini riot erupts, leading to several arrests

Vandals were also responsible for the recently discovered tunnels under the main Chabad shul, which led officials to summon repair workers who were today prevented from work

Jan 8, 2024 8:25 PM


Chaos broke out at Chabad headquarters in Crown Heights earlier this evening, after a group of young men demolished a synagogue wall, and members of the NYPD, who arrived to restore order, arrested several people following a mini riot.

The disturbance began when administrators brought cement trucks to 770 Eastern Parkway, where the main Chabad synagogue is located, to fill in tunnels under the building that had been recently discovered and had led to concerns about structural damage to the building, according to The tunnels had been secretly dug over the past few years by a group of yeshiva students without authorization from synagogue officials.

As workers began pumping cement into the tunnel area, a rowdy group of young men disconnected the hoses and began to vandalize the cement trucks. When police arrived to restore order, the group went into the shul and began to vandalize the interior, taking a sledgehammer to a section of the synagogue wall, purportedly to connect the synagogue area to the tunnels.

According to a video of the event circulating on social media, the police cordoned off the vandalized area inside the synagogue and began to make several arrests, which triggered a mini riot. As the mayhem rose, a group of people began shoving the police, with some raising tables in the air, apparently intending to heave them at the cops, though they appeared to give up when the tables proved too heavy to lift very high. As police attempted to restore order, one man, whom the police had arrested but who had been briefly left to stand alone in handcuffs, began to sing and dance, lending a comic air to the mayhem.

In an audio recording by Rabbi Yosef Braun, a member of the Crown Heights Beth Din, which was posted online and circulated on social media groups, the rabbi said, “A horrible thing happened today,” referring to the vandalism. He called the group “idiots” who were intent on “destroying 770.” They were “not appointed by anyone,” Braun said of the group, “and they need to be put in their place, in so many meanings of the word.”

A source within Chabad told Shtetl that the group behind the tunnels and the vandalism are known as “Tzfatim,” a group of Israeli students from the Chabad yeshiva in Safed, known for their extremism, and their insistent belief that the late Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, is still physically alive. The group has a long history of violent clashes at the main Chabad shul against anyone who opposes them.