Posts Tagged ‘eruv’
A group trying to have an eruv built in Long Island’s Hamptons filed a federal lawsuit after having its bid quashed by a zoning board.
The East End Eruv Association filed its suit Tuesday in Brooklyn District Court against the Township of Southampton and the Southampton Zoning Board of Appeals. Last month, the zoning board denied the construction of the eruv, an all-but-invisible enclosure that allows Sabbath-observant Jews to carry items or push strollers outdoors.
The complaint says that without the eruv, it becomes impossible for observant Jewish residents to carry common objects such as “books, food, water, house keys, personal identification, prayer shawls and reading glasses” on the Sabbath. The association alleges that the zoning board’s rejection of the eruv is tantamount to discrimination. It accuses the board of being “motivated by discriminatory intentions and animus towards observant Jews.”
The zoning board had ruled that the eruv—a fishing line tied to the tops of 15 Southampton Township telephone poles—would “alter the essential character of the neighborhood.”
In addition, the board took theological issue with the concept of the eruv itself, calling it a “loophole” that is “motivated by the personal desire … to be freed from the proscriptions of Jewish law,” the New York Post reported.
The association’s lawsuit demands that the court find the zoning board ruling “arbitrary and capricious,” and that the association be paid for the cost of the eruv’s installation and “further relief as the Court deems appropriate,” according to the text of the complaint.
Observant Jews in Los Angeles are bracing for the possibility that they will not be allowed to carry anything or even push a baby stroller on Shabbat due to a freeway project that will knock down the ‘Eruv.” which transforms a public area in to a private space in terms of Jewish law.
The eruv can be formed by hills or fences, but in urban areas, it usually is created by a thin wire that runs along light poles.
A project to widen the 405 Freeway ′s Wilshire Boulevard interchange will require tearing down the poles – and the wires, breaking the eruv and prohibiting observant Jews from walking with anything in their hands or pockets on Shabbat.
“We hope to have a workaround for next week, but the next three weeks will be problematic as the contractor rushes to finish new, and demolish old bridges at Wilshire,” according to Hoard Witkin, who heads the Los Angeles Community Eruv.
Robert G. Sugarman, the immediate past chairman of the Anti-Defamation League, has been nominated by a committee of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to serve as the next chairman, starting June 1.
Alan Solow, immediate past chairman of the Presidents Conference and chairman of the Nominating Committee, said the full Conference will elect the new leader in May.
Sugarman, an attorney, is nominated to succeed Richard B. Stone, who is completing his second term as chairman.
He was a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP for more than 30 years until his retirement in 2007. He is currently working pro bono representing the East End Eruv Association in its litigation to establish an “eruv” in Westhampton Beach, Quogue and Southhampton.
One of three federal lawsuits filed in connection with a proposed eruv enclosure in a suburban New York beach community was dismissed.
U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler dismissed a suit on Monday brought by a group of Jewish residents on Long Island opposed to the construction of the eruv, an enclosure that permits religious Jews to carry items in public on the Sabbath, The New York Times reported. Proponents of the eruv in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., are affiliated with the Orthodox Hampton Synagogue, which has had repeated run-ins with local residents fearing an influx of Orthodox Jews to the seaside community.
Judge Wexler also set a timeline for the other two suits, one brought by the East End Eruv Association attempting to set up the eruv, the other between the three villages on whose land the eruv would be erected, Westhampton Beach, Quogue, and Southampton, and the utility companies the poles belong to.
“This used to be an amiable little town,” said Ellen Indursky, a member of the Hampton Synagogue, who told the NY Times on Saturday that she regrets her synagogue’s bringing up the idea of the eruv in the first place. “It’s created an us and a them; you are either on one side or the other,” she said, adding, “There’s more feelings of anti-Semitism here now than there has ever been.”
Very few Westhampton Beach residents are Orthodox, according to the Times, and the Hampton Synagogue is the only Orthodox congregation in the area. About 20 of the synagogue’s year-round members, and some 200 summer resident families say they need the eruv, according to the rabbi, Marc Schneier.
But in the Hamptons as in every other community where Orthodox Jews put up an eruv, having it there is an open invitation to even more Orthodox Jews to settle down there, especially young people. This is because the eruv allows young mothers to take their babies to synagogue on Shabbat morning, to attend services. It also permits the disabled to be pushed in wheelchairs to shul. In short, it makes life easy on the Orthodox and before you know it, they fill up the area.
Or, as the Times put it: “…many in Westhampton Village…say they fear the prospect of more Orthodox Jews moving in if the eruv is constructed. The mayor, Conrad Teller, estimated that perhaps 90 to 95 percent of Westhampton Village is now against it. ‘It’s divisive,’ he said. ‘I believe they think somebody’s trying to push something down their throats.’”
Yes, it appears nothing is more offensive to the gentry in the Hamptons than invisible fishing lines stretched 20 feet in the air between electric poles.
Some locals told the Times their bigotry is economically founded: “Storekeepers on Main Street have voiced practical concerns, because Orthodox Jews traditionally don’t spend money on the Sabbath. ‘Retail is hard enough as it is,’ said Anick Darbellay, sitting in her dress shop on Friday. ‘I don’t want to have to shut down on Saturdays. Have you been to the Five Towns?’ she asked, referring to an Orthodox Jewish enclave in Nassau County. ‘That’s what happened there.'”
JTA content was used in this report.