By COLlive reporter
The New York Police Department has expanded its patrol around Lubavitch World Headquarters and the Crown Heights neighborhood over the month of Tishrei and its holidays.
But gabboim of the main shul at 770 Eastern Parkway are also concerned about an internal threat, one that may be caused by the large number of people gathered there.
Guests come from around the world to spend “Tishrei with the Rebbe” and fill the main shul for davening, learning, farbrengens and dancing. For years, many have brought with them folding chairs, milk crates and boxes to rest on while at shul.
That is going to change this year, the Gabbai Rabbi Yosef Losh told COLlive.com on Sunday night. He said they are insuring that the doorways as well as the exit walkways will remain clear.
“We won’t be allowing anything to fill up the empty spaces,” he stated. “Nobody is allowed to bring anything to 770, not a box, chair or bench. All exits must remain empty.”
The decision to implement safety precautions was made following the deadly crowd crush on Mount Meron on Lag BaOmer which cost the lives of 45 people and the collapse of bleachers in the Karlin-Stolin shul near Jerusalem.
Losh said that the prohibition against parking bicycles and scooters at the entrance of 770 has been successful. “It used to be a parking lot, and now on Shabbos it’s 100% clear,” he said.
He said the chairs and boxes people bring for the long hours in shul pose a similar threat to the bikes in the entrance. “If something happens, it’s not like people will pick up their box when they escape…” he said.
The gabboim’s decision was publicly supported in a letter from Rabbi Avrohom Osdoba and Rabbi Yosef Braun, members of the Crown Heights Beis Din.
“With regards to the crowding in 770, everything must be done in accordance with public safety guidelines, following the rules set by experts, and in coordination with the gabboim,” they stated.