Chabad tunnelers reportedly employed Mexican labourers to dig

Extreme yeshiva students are said to have moved dirt from their synagogue in their pockets


Young Chasidim are said to have employed Mexican migrant labourers to dig underneath Chabad's Brooklyn HQ (Photo: Twitter)

Tunnels under Chabad’s Brooklyn headquarters were reportedly dug by Mexican labourers hired by extreme Chasidic youths.

A network of passeways and hidden rooms underneath the sect’s New York building sparked global fascination this week after videos of police remonstrating with young strictly Orthodox men went viral.

Renegade Chasidim who believe the Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson was the messiah had constructed the subterranean structure amid an ongoing dispute about who controlled the movement’s headquarters. 

Much of that construction, the New York Post has reported, was carried out by migrant labourers from Mexico.

Chasidim in their late teens and early 20s began the construction themselves, the newspaper claimed, stuffing the dirt they accumulated into their pockets to avoid detection.

Eitan Kalmowitz, a member of the Lubavitch community in Crown Heights told The Post: “You’ve seen the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’? That’s what these young men did at first: They dug and put the dirt in their pockets.”

While they carried out the project, the Mexican workers lived in a nearby building that had been abandoned, he claimed.

Kalmowitz said: “The Mexicans lived in the building for three weeks during the work… They slept and ate there because it was a secret operation.”

The work was performed “correctly” he added, with support beams used to prevent it from caving in. 

"I was surprised by the stealth and secrecy of it all,” a 38-year-old Chabad member told the Post. “It’s incredible to me that they kept it under wraps. The yeshiva boys are very idealistic, extreme.”

In a statement, Chabad chairman Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky said the Lubavitcher community had been “pained” by the “vandalism of a group of young agitators” who damaged the Brroklyn synagogue.

He added: “These odious actions will be investigated, and the sanctity of the synagogue will be restored. 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.”

After an initial wave of online humour following the discovery of the tunnels, antisemitic provocateurs seized on the news to incite hatred.

White nationalist activist Nick Fuentes called the tunnel “freaky stuff,” adding: “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anybody who’s doing anything good who is digging tunnels under the city… that’s usually the beginning of a very dark story.”

Others referenced the killing of Simon of Trent, a medieval murder that sparked the original blood libel accusation that Jews prey upon gentile children.

Jonathan Greeblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told the JC: “It’s deeply troubling that anyone would use this incident, which the Chabad movement at large has strongly condemned, to draw inappropriate and false comparisons to Hamas tunnels in Gaza or propagate age-old antisemitic conspiracy theories, such as Jews are involved in human trafficking or organ harvesting.”

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