‘Not in my back yard’: Charedi chief fights new eruv plan

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE RE­LI­GIOUS leader of Lon­don’s Union of Ortho­dox He­brew Con­gre­ga­tions moved this week to pre­vent the cre­ation of an eruv in his own back yard.

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, head of the Union’s rab­binate, urged mem­bers of the strictly Ortho­dox com­mu­nity not to back plans for a lo­cal eruv that would cover the Charedi strongholds of Stam­ford Hill and Stoke New­ing­ton in North Lon­don.

The Union has long op­posed the use of the five-year-old North-West Lon­don eruv, which serves Hamp­stead Gar­den Sub­urb, Hen­don and Gold­ers Green, ar­gu­ing that its bound­aries fail to meet the re­quire­ments of Jewish law.

But now a group of ac­tivists are try­ing to draw up plans for a sim­i­lar fa­cil­ity for the 20,000-plus Charedi com­mu­nity in Hack­ney and Haringey.

Shab­bat rules nor­mally pro­hibit the car­ry­ing of items in pub­lic, but within the bound­aries of an eruv, it is per­mis­si­ble to carry cer­tain ob­jects for Shab­bat use or push wheel­chairs and prams.

In a hand­writ­ten let­ter in He­brew, Rabbi Padwa was adamant: “No­body should get in­volved with es­tab­lish­ing an eruv here in our town.”

One lo­cal busi­ness­man who was be­lieved to be a sup­porter of the project is un­der­stood to have pulled out af­ter Rabbi Padwa’s in­ter­ven­tion.

A map of the pro­posed eruv area has been cir­cu­lat­ing in Stam­ford Hill.

But one rabbi said to be in favour of the plan was un­avail­able for com­ment, ac­cord­ing to a wo­man who an­swered the phone at his home.

The tech­ni­cal­i­ties of con­struct­ing an eruv are among the most com­plex in Jewish law and rab­bis dif­fer over their ap­pli­ca­tion.

Where there are no nat­u­ral bound­ary lines such as a river or rail­way, sym­bolic gate­ways — con­sist­ing of poles linked with thin wire — may be used to mark parts of the eruv perime­ter.

Op­po­nents of the North-West Lon­don eruv, for ex­am­ple, ar­gue that it is in­valid be­cause it in­cor­po­rates an un­bounded thor­ough­fare, which serves a town with more than 600,000 res­i­dents — the North Cir­cu­lar Road.

But sup­port­ers of the eruv ar­gue that the 600,000 fig­ure ap­plies to daily users of the road and that the North Cir­cu­lar car­ries fewer trav­ellers.

Last month, a group of Ortho­dox busi­ness­men spon­sored the dis­tri­bu­tion of a glossy brochure to thou­sands of homes in Gold­ers Green and Hen­don, quot­ing lead­ing rab­binic au­thor­i­ties in sup­port of the North­West Lon­don eruv, which is un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the Lon­don Beth Din.

Eruvs are rapidly grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. Edg­ware’s has been op­er­a­tional for a year and a half, Bore­ham­wood and El­stree’s is due to come on stream and the United Syn­a­gogue is be­lieved to have more than half-a-dozen other pro­pos­als un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

PHOTO: VICKY AL­HAD­EFF

One of the poles mark­ing the bound­ary of the North West Lon­don eruv

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