Orthodox Jewish group to renew eruv effort

The original request for an eruv in the

The original request for an eruv in the Hamptons, made by The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, divided the community and led to the creation of Jews Against the Eruv, a group that argued an eruv could change the character of their village. (October 13, 2010) (Credit: Bruce Gilbert)

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For the third time since 2008, a group of Orthodox Jews is seeking to create an eruv -- an area set off with symbolic markers made of plastic and attached to utility poles -- in the Hamptons.

So far, the requests have led to a federal lawsuit and a spoof on "The Daily Show." The original request to the Westhampton Beach village board was later withdrawn, and no formal application was ever filed in a request to Southampton Town.

An eruv is a symbolic area that Orthodox Jews consider a common space, a kind of shared home, which allows them to do certain tasks otherwise prohibited outside the home on the Sabbath, such as carrying a book, driving a car or using a wheelchair or a baby carriage.

The original request, made by The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, divided the community and led to the creation of Jews Against the Eruv, a group that argued an eruv could change the character of their village.

Eventually, temple officials withdrew the request and vowed to conduct an education campaign about the eruv.

The second plan, to create an eruv big enough to cover both the villages of Quogue and Westhampton Beach and the unincorporated area between them, began with the East End Eruv Association going to federal court to demand a summary judgment -- a judicial ruling that they had the right to put up their eruv markers.

The judge ruled the lawsuit was premature, and no application was ever filed with Southampton Town.

Now, the East End Eruv Association has asked the Quogue village board to approve an eruv, and plans to go back to Westhampton Beach to renew its other request. There would be no need to deal with Southampton Town, which regulates the area between the two villages, because the proposed eruv boundaries are the Atlantic Ocean and the fence along the Long Island Rail Road tracks, and needs no markers, according to Robert G. Sugarman, attorney for the East End Eruv Association.

An eruv carries no legal impact, giving no special rights or obligations. Tens of thousands of people walk through them without ever realizing it in nearly 20 communities on Long Island, including North Bellmore, Valley Stream and Roslyn.

But the eruv border must be marked, which means putting plastic markers on utility poles. Officials in both villages have expressed concern over the appearance of their streets and the fact that the markings could lead to similar requests from other groups.

Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius said his board, which meets once a month, has not reviewed the eruv association's lengthy application, and probably would not have time to do it before its February meeting.

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