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Quogue: Eruv would violate village codes

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

Quogue Village has rejected an application from an Orthodox Jewish group to construct an eruv, or symbolic fence -- the latest setback in a case that has roiled the East End for several years.

The Quogue board of trustees in a five-page decision issued Friday said municipal codes clearly prohibit affixing posters, yard sale signs and other items to utility poles.

Creating an eruv would violate those codes, the village decided.

The East End Eruv Association wants to string wires and place special markers called "lechis" on utility poles to create an area where observant Orthodox Jews could perform tasks ordinarily prohibited on their Sabbath outside of their homes, such as pushing baby carriages and carrying objects, on the way to their synagogue.

But trustees said permitting the eruv could be seen as "an endorsement of a particular religion" by a government entity.

Robert Sugarman, an attorney representing the association, said, "We are disappointed but not surprised. We believe [the decision] is significantly flawed and we will go back to court to seek relief." He declined to comment further.

The issue has stoked controversy since 2008, with the association claiming it's the victim of discrimination by local officials.

Authorities deny that, noting than even some non-Orthodox Jewish groups oppose the move.

In November, a federal judge denied a request from the association for a preliminary injunction against three municipalities it claimed were blocking the eruv construction.

Besides Quogue, they are the Town of Southampton and the Village of Westhampton.

The judge, Leonard Wexler, ruled that the association's motion was premature because it had not yet filed the proper applications with the municipalities.

That prompted the association to file an application with Quogue. Southampton and Westhampton officials said Tuesday the group has no pending applications.

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