Update: ERUV Debate Continues in Williamsburg, NY

May 16, 2003

Source: The Associated Press


On May 16, 2003 The Associated Press reported that "a seemingly obscure issue had drawn the more than 3,000 Hasidic Jewish demonstrators: a dispute over whether a symbolic enclosure of wood posts and wires violates proper observance of the Jewish day of rest... The protesters were among those who feel the Sabbath is being desecrated in the city's ultra-Orthodox Williamsburg section. But observers say that fight is part of a larger struggle. There is a tussle for control of the Satmar sect in Williamsburg, while the weakened majority Satmars are--in turn--having a sharp disagreement with dissident Hasidim from other movements... Trouble began earlier this year, when dissident Hasidim marked off an eruv encompassing much of Wiliamsburg, with the goal of making life easier for ultra-observant Jews during the Sabbath, also called Shabbat, which runs from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday... An eruv, constructed of wires or thread, symbolically transforms the streets and courtyards it encloses into private space where objects can be carried. Since the enclosure was built, it has been increasingly common to see Hasidic men and women carrying prayer shawls or pushing baby carriages on Shabbat... Satmar leaders objected, arguing the eruv violates the holiness of the Sabbath and could lead Jews to ignore other religious laws for Shabbat, such as the ban on spending money."