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June 1, 2016 3:10 pm

Critics of London Eruv Proposal Say Construction May Lead to ‘Ghettoization’

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The construction of an eruv. Photo: Wikipedia.

The construction of an eruv. Photo: Wikipedia.

A proposal to build an eruv — a ritual enclosure constructed of posts and wire — in North London which would permit Orthodox Jews to be able to carry certain objects outside their homes on the Sabbath or Yom Kippur, is facing backlash as critics say it will lead to “ghettoization,” the UK’s Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the proposal under consideration by the Camden Council is being sponsored by a group of local synagogues. Local architect Daniel Rosenfelder told the Camden New Journal, “Once the poles are there, they are impossible to find. People don’t notice them. The argument that it will destroy social cohesions — it hasn’t happened in any city in the world.” Rosenfelder added that the eruv will have the opposite effect, claiming it will make people “feel more part of the general community.”

The eruv plays a significant role in observant Jewish life. Without it, Jews who leave the confines of their homes on Saturdays are forbidden from transporting objects or pushing strollers and wheelchairs. The eruv acts as an extension of a person’s home, thereby freeing up Sabbath limitations.  

Adrienne Burgess, an opponent of the eruv plan, was quoted by the Daily Mail telling the Council’s planning department, “No religious group should impose its structures on this community.” Karen Cramer, who is also against the plan, said, “We need to take in the views of the whole community rather than just a minority religious group. Going ahead with the eruv also increases the threat of religious encroachment on public spaces from any religious group.”

Elana Moynihan said that while “we want to preserve people’s freedom to faith, this should not be taken as an excuse to override the rights and rules of everybody else. Nobody is allowed to build in our common spaces so why should religious bodies be?”

According to The Times, the eruv in question would be constructed using fishing wire measuring 0.02 inches thick suspended from tall poles approximately 18 feet high across 40 points around Camden. The eruv would create a new six-mile perimeter in North London and, should it be constructed, would become the largest eruv in Britain by joining with already existing eruvim, including an 11-mile perimeter in North West London.  

This is not the first time an eruv proposal has faced significant opposition in London. In 2014, plans to construct an eruv in West Hampstead drew backlash, the Daily Mail reported, with one resident saying, “Adding wires creates the idea of a ghetto in modern society.” Another resident called Jewish laws “outdated” and said, “We should be protecting our progress as a society, not restricting it.”

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  • Freddy

    Shariah-compliant zones, where women cannot walk if their heads are uncovered, possession of alcoholic beverages is prohibited, etc., are OK in London, but not a piece of fishing line suspended from a series of poles? Get a life.

  • First, a shout-out to Irwin Gelbart from an old Oceansider. I left in ’73, and I remember the Long Beach eruv–didn’t know that we had acquired one. The Long Beach eruv, as I recall, is strung largely along the boardwalk between the existing stanchions, so no one even notices it.

    Theodore Crawford–eruvim are very common in the US and I haven’t heard of one encountering opposition. I always heard that existing overheard wires and lines could constitute much or most of an eruv, so the additions are often not very consequential.

  • Irwin Gelbart

    It seems to me that the opposition to the eruv is blatant anti-Semitism under the guise of “changing the neighborhood”, “creating a ghetto” or whatever other so called “progressive” label is given to the opposition of the eruv. In truth, I had built an eruv in our town in Oceanside, NY some 40 years ago. Yes, we had opposition from some people. Once the erev was complete, the noise stopped and no one even is aware of the eruv other the Jewish community who needs to inspect it every week before the Sabbath. It is hard to overcome the pettiness of the anti-Semite, and once it is done, the noise stops along with the reasons that it even began.

    Irwin Gelbart
    Oceanside, NY

  • Monica Ribald

    Objections are superficial fears. If you didn’t know the fish wire was thereyou wouldn’t concern yourself I think this is an issue of anti-Semitism nothing more as you see most of the names are non-Jewish and they have this conception that this is the Jews in print infringing on the Gentile world’s rules

  • Ruth

    I would direct the Camden Council to review this coverage of a similar situation:

  • Joseph Feld

    Over the years Camden Council has had some loony Left ideas. Years back they passed a law prohibiting independent [private] schools from any further building in the Borough of Camden. In the bad old days Labour said competitive sports harm children because not everyone is a winner — and sold off playing fields. Camden, like Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn, is not hostile to Jews. They are just on the extreme Left of politics!

  • Theodore Crawford

    Oops! My “goyische” is really showing. This is the first time I can remember ever hearing about this quirky work-around for the Shabbat law. Seems kind of silly to implement a loophole for The Day Of Rest. Do Jews build these “eruv” over here in the States?

    • allen reishtein

      They have existed in many communities in US for 40 to 50 years.They are unobtrusive, maybe that’s why you haven’t noticed them.

  • Ani

    Lovely, just lovely. Got a wee problem with Jews folks? You’re not antisemitic, of course you’re not……..

  • Dave

    Objecting to an completely unobtrusive eruv, which affects no-one in any adverse way, “protects out progress”? The only progress the objectors protect is the progress in the growth of anti-semitism in the once free country of Britain.

  • Hubert Wagner

    “No religious group should impose its structures on this community.” Adrienne Burgess an opponent of eruv.

    Speaking as a gentile, I’d rather have an eruv outside my house than a Mosque any day.

  • I am a Jew and a passionate one at that, but I find this discussion absolutely offensive. If you feel, for whatever your reasons that you can’t carry out certain tasks on the Sabbath then it’s your choice….but I do’t want you to extend your religious practices in my free space any more than I support the closing down of all a town’s business on Sundays because for some people, it is a day of rest! Your religious observances are Yours. They shouldn’t be imposed on me!!

    • allen reishtein

      An eruv does not impinge on anyone’s free space. It is a minimal intrusion which in no way affects use of public space. Further it is in no way comparable to a law directing businesses to close on the Sabbath.

    • Derek Brown

      You are an idiot!

  • Len Klahr

    I believe the main objections come from residents, not the council, which has previously agreed an eruv, after negotiation over the details, in another part of the same borough.

  • Harvey

    The same council gave planning permission for the London Mosque to be built in Regents Park which is completely out of character with the park and its usage as a leisure facility. Double standards from the left wing Camden Council I fear .

  • Simple solution: Instead of building an Eruv around your houses, build your houses within an Eruv – in Erets Yisroyl!

  • Scott Widitor

    If the Eruv were physically obtrusive or readily observable, I would agree with the opposition. However, once the Eruv is up it will be almost invisible. A better rule would be that people should not be allowed to construct religious structures that interfere with anybody else’s right to practice their religion or interferes with the flow of traffic, compromises public safety,etc. In this case the proposed Eruv passes the test. In fact the opposition to it’s construction is so irrational as to raise the question of whether the opposition is driven by anti-Semitic feelings. Live and let live (When you can).

  • sifter

    But Muslime can take over streets and trash property in perpetuity, thats Tolerance, that’s ok.The Brits have always been the most two-faced anti-Semites in the world.

  • Naomi

    In one sense, the critics are right. An eruv is a metaphorical ‘tent pole’ of a Jewish community. Where a functional eruv exists, Jewish communal life flourishes and grows. Therefore, there is a good likelihood that Jewish presence – and perhaps, influence – becomes more concentrated in areas where the community is maintaining an active eruv. If this is what the opponents fear as a ‘ghettoization,’ they should ask themselves what they really fear; for observant Jews are normally amongst the most productive, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. So, their ‘fear,’ in this writer’s opinion, is based on one of the following: ignorance, an anti-religous bias or active anti-semitism.