News, Culture & Society

Melbourne synagogue worshipper walks on rooftops to allegedly use a secret entrance

A man in traditional Jewish clothing has been filmed crawling along the rooftops of a Melbourne synagogue where it’s alleged worshippers have been using a secret entrance to get around the city’s lockdown laws. 

Footage captured the man climbing down from one rooftop to another at the back of the Adass Israel Synagogue on Glen Eira Avenue, Ripponlea.

The synagogue was raided by police on Tuesday after worshippers gathered to attend a series of Rosh Hashanah services to celebrate the Jewish New Year.

Up to 100 fines, each worth $5,452, are likely to be issued because the services were held in breach of public health orders.

A number of worshippers confronted police while others fled on rooftops. 

In the video, the man is seen crawling on all fours along the roofs, which feature distinctive chimneys and features that place them at the rear of the synagogue.

In the video the man (pictured) is seen climbing down from one rooftop to another at the Adass Israel Synagogue in Melbourne, which was raided by police for lockdown breaches on Tuesday

The footage shows the man crouching and crawling as he walks from one rooftop to another before meeting another man dressed in similar traditionally Jewish clothing

The footage shows the man crouching and crawling as he walks from one rooftop to another before meeting another man dressed in similar traditionally Jewish clothing

Police speak to worshippers (pictured) at a Jewish New Year's celebration at the Adass Israel Synagogue in Ripponlea, Melbourne, on Tuesday. Up to 100 fines could be handed out for lockdown breaches. It is not suggested the persons shown have breached lockdown laws

Police speak to worshippers (pictured) at a Jewish New Year’s celebration at the Adass Israel Synagogue in Ripponlea, Melbourne, on Tuesday. Up to 100 fines could be handed out for lockdown breaches. It is not suggested the persons shown have breached lockdown laws

He slowly climbs down a ladder and reaches a lower level before meeting up with another man in traditional Jewish clothing.

In one version of the footage a woman can be heard saying, ‘I s**t you not, they’re getting into the synagogue by literally crawling across the roof.

‘He’s going to go down that ladder and sneak down there. This is my kitchen window.’ 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Victoria Police for comment. 

When Daily Mail Australia contacted the synagogue they had left a pre-recorded message stating the lockdown breach that resulted in the police raid was the fault of ‘an independent group of worshippers’ who are not connected to the synagogue in any way.

The message also stated that the synagogue premises are fully compliant with Victoria’s lockdown laws. 

Adass Israel has distanced itself from the lockdown breach with a spokesperson saying the people responsible for the public health order breach were not linked to the congregation.

‘Adass Israel was not responsible for the Rosh Hashana public health order breach,’ the spokesperson said.

he gathering in question was an independent group of worshippers unaffiliated with Adass Israel, and was not held at one of our premises.’

‘Adass Israel has taken all necessary steps to ensure our synagogue and buildings are compliant with public health orders.’ 

The services on Tuesday were held at the synagogue despite hard lockdown rules in Melbourne as the city continues to grapple with the latest Covid-19 outbreak.

The state recorded 334 new cases on Friday. 

The services on Tuesday were held at the synagogue despite hard lockdown rules in Melbourne as the city continues to grapple with the latest growing Covid-19 outbreak (pictured, people line up outside a bakery in Melbourne's CBD earlier this week as the city's lockdown continues )

The services on Tuesday were held at the synagogue despite hard lockdown rules in Melbourne as the city continues to grapple with the latest growing Covid-19 outbreak (pictured, people line up outside a bakery in Melbourne’s CBD earlier this week as the city’s lockdown continues )

The state recorded 334 new cases on Friday, the most since August 13, including 189 mystery case not yet linked to the rest of the outbreak (pictured, people wearing masks walk along St Kilda Road on Sunday)

The state recorded 334 new cases on Friday, the most since August 13, including 189 mystery case not yet linked to the rest of the outbreak (pictured, people wearing masks walk along St Kilda Road on Sunday)

Victoria Police said in a statement on Friday that a 72-year-old St-Kilda man was arrested and charged with recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault to a cameraman during the raid on Tuesday.

The man was issued with a $5,452 fine for breaching the public health orders.

The ultra-Orthodox worshipper will face Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on February 21 where police will allege the man assaulted a 45-year-old man outside a property on Glen Eira Road in Ripponlea at about 7.00pm.

Deputy Victorian Opposition leader David Southwick claimed worshippers at the temple remained ‘untouchable for months’ by operating under the guise of a mental health group, which allows up to 10 people to gather at once.

‘My understanding is they were operating under an AA-type meeting and mental health group that allows you to have 10 people congregate at a time,’ he told the Herald Sun.

‘[Health officials] did not have enforceability powers because that group were operating in a certain guise.’ 

Mr Southwick said he wrote to worshippers in the months leading up to Jewish New Year asking them not to congregate during lockdown.

‘[This] was not a new situation with this particular group, this group has been involved for some time in a number of activities,’ he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also pleaded with worshippers to follow lockdown rules in the days leading up to Tuesday’s end-of-year celebrations, which is a major event on the Jewish calendar.

A gathering celebrating Jewish New Year in Melbourne ended with fiery scenes and police moving in to shut down the event and issuing $5,452 fines to 'all adults' who attended (men near the synagogue in Ripponlea, pictured. It is not suggested the persons shown have breached lockdown laws)

A gathering celebrating Jewish New Year in Melbourne ended with fiery scenes and police moving in to shut down the event and issuing $5,452 fines to ‘all adults’ who attended (men near the synagogue in Ripponlea, pictured. It is not suggested the persons shown have breached lockdown laws)

Up to 30 people are now believed to have attended the Rosh Hashanah celebration at a Ripponlea synagogue in Melbourne 's south-east (pictured. It is not suggested the persons shown have breached lockdown laws)

Up to 30 people are now believed to have attended the Rosh Hashanah celebration at a Ripponlea synagogue in Melbourne ‘s south-east (pictured. It is not suggested the persons shown have breached lockdown laws)

‘The Covid-19 pandemic has cast its shadow over all our lives and kept us from the rites and gatherings we yearn to celebrate,’ he said last week. 

‘I know this year your celebrations will once again be subdued but I have faith that you will find inspiration and sweetness in these days of awe, as the sound of the shofar echoes in your hearts.’

One news cameraman was allegedly assaulted and taken to hospital with a concussion after Tuesday’s confrontation in Ripponlea. 

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett told worshippers who were yet to come forward to turn themselves in.

He vowed to hunt down every adult who was inside the synagogue and fine them.

‘I’m appalled,’ he said on Wednesday morning. 

‘Come forward, identify yourself. My instruction to my investigators today is every person at the gathering will receive a penalty notice.’

Supporters were pictured standing outside the Adass Israel Synagogue of Melbourne on Tuesday night as the Rosh Hashanah celebrations continued inside.

There was initially believed to be 100 people inside, but police downscaled the estimated number to around 30 on Wednesday.

Victoria's Deputy Leader of the Opposition David Southwick. He said he had personally written to worshippers in the months leading up to Jewish New Year asking them not to congregate during lockdown

Victoria’s Deputy Leader of the Opposition David Southwick. He said he had personally written to worshippers in the months leading up to Jewish New Year asking them not to congregate during lockdown

The tense standoff between Victorian police and worshippers (pictured) spilled into abuse and claims of anti-Semitism as police moved in to disperse the gathering. Police later issued a statement saying 'all adults' in attendance would receive a $5,452 fine. It is not suggested the persons shown have breached lockdown laws

The tense standoff between Victorian police and worshippers (pictured) spilled into abuse and claims of anti-Semitism as police moved in to disperse the gathering. Police later issued a statement saying ‘all adults’ in attendance would receive a $5,452 fine. It is not suggested the persons shown have breached lockdown laws

The main illegal gathering occurred at Adass Israel Synagogue in Glen Eira Avenue, Ripponlea in inner Melbourne during a Jewish New Year celebration. It is not suggested the persons shown have breached lockdown laws

The main illegal gathering occurred at Adass Israel Synagogue in Glen Eira Avenue, Ripponlea in inner Melbourne during a Jewish New Year celebration. It is not suggested the persons shown have breached lockdown laws

Around 100 Jewish New Year worshippers held illegal gatherings (pictured) and refused to comply with police directions

Around 100 Jewish New Year worshippers held illegal gatherings (pictured) and refused to comply with police directions

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