Chabad's headquarters in Crown Heights at 770 Eastern Parkway by the Forward

Headquarters of Chabad movement, iconic ‘770’ building, closes for first time

Image by Wikimedia

The international Chabad movement, one of modern Judaism’s most powerful forces for the dissemination of Jewish culture and practice, has closed its iconic headquarters for the first time, citing the spread of coronavirus and the illness of residents in its Crown Heights, Brooklyn neighborhood.

The closure happened “in accordance with the order of the rabbis of the neighborhood,” according to an official Chabad website.

It was first announced Tuesday night that 770 was closing, but prayer and study continued late into the night. The building was officially closed early in the morning only after dozens of people took part in a final prayer service where worshippers stood shoulder to shoulder. A raucous dance party stretched late into the night.

The closure, which was first reported by the Orthodox news service, came after days in which it was unclear how seriously some in the neighborhood were taking the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as other synagogues around the globe curtailed their Purim parties more than a week ago and called off Shabbat services last weekend, 770 and the surrounding neighborhood continued to bustle. 

A celebration Saturday night drew at least 100 men to the building, according to a video Chabad posted on YouTube. And COLlive reported that the head of 770 said on Tuesday that he had no plans to close the building, though visitors over 65 had been discouraged from entering.

Then it became clear that Crown Heights was emerging as a coronavirus hotspot in New York City. The New York Times also reported about a wedding in South Williamsburg, another Brooklyn neighborhood with many Hasidic residents, that drew at least 200 people in violation of city regulations barring large gatherings.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Beth Din of Crown Heights, the neighborhood’s Orthodox rabbinic council, issued a decree requiring synagogues and men’s mikvahs, or ritual baths, to close. 

“May we be zoche [worthy] to the eradication of all illness with the coming of Moshiach NOW,” the Crown Heights ruling concludes, using the Yiddish word for the Messiah.

Philissa Cramer from the JTA contributed to this report.


Helen Chernikoff

Helen Chernikoff

Helen Chernikoff is the Forward’s News Editor. She came to the Forward from The Jewish Week, where she served as the first web director and created both a blog dedicated to disability issues and a food and wine website. Before that, she covered the housing, lodging and logistics industries for Reuters, where she could sit at her desk and watch her stories move the stock market. Helen has a Master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University and a BA in History and French from Amherst College. She is also a rabbinical school dropout. Contact her at and follow her on Twitter at @thesimplechild.

Chabad headquarters closes due to coronavirus

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Headquarters of Chabad movement, iconic ‘770’ building, closes for first time

Thank you!

This article has been sent!