The New Orleans Community Eruv

Congregation Beth Israel completed the construction and layout of the first-ever Eruv District within the Greater New Orleans metro area in September of 2008. The Eruv is maintained under the supervision of Rabbi Uri Topolosky and Rabbi David Posternock who erected the Eruv with the guidance and approval of Rabbi Yaakov Love, a Dayan in Passaic, NJ. See eruv map below!

Important note: The Eruv requires a weekly inspection to ensure that there are no downed power lines or poles, damaged markers, or that there isn’t any construction interfering with the Eruv boundary. Please check in each Friday for an Eruv update that will “scroll” on the homepage of our website.

What is an Eruv?

In this context, an Eruv refers to the “mixing” of multiple parcels of land under Jewish property law, symbolically creating a single aggregate of land that can be considered semi-privatized. Generally speaking, “carrying or transferring” external objects (non-clothing) from private domain into public domain, or within just the public domain, is one of the categories of work that is prohibited on the Sabbath in Jewish tradition. Therefore, the creation of an “Eruv District” enables traditional Jews to carry objects and push strollers on the Sabbath, by symbolically transforming the “public” neighborhood into a “semi-private” community.

The Eruv itself is a physical border that surrounds a neighborhood and is generally composed of existing telephone wires, poles, fences, and walls. In New Orleans’ case, the Eruv also consists of levees. “Mapping” an Eruv involves ensuring that there is a continuous border, and placing directional markers and additional walls when necessary. The New Orleans Community Eruv gained authorization and guidance from Entergy, and other official agencies to establish the Eruv District. On Wednesday, September 17, 2008, John Young, President of the Jefferson Parish Council, issued a proclamation from the council stating, “Now, therefore, the Jefferson Parish Council of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, hereby grants permission for the establishment of an Eruv District by and for the Jewish community.”

 

Rabbi Uri’s thoughts on the completed Eruv project:

“This is an incredibly exciting venture for our Jewish community, because, through the mechanisms of Jewish law, the presence of an Eruv circumvents certain Shabbat restrictions, allowing for participation in various outdoor activities that naturally facilitate a more family oriented community. For example, one of the key benefits to an Eruv is that strollers may be used on the Shabbat (see explanation above). Thus, an Eruv puts you on the map in the Jewish world signaling that this is a community welcoming to young families. We believe that the Eruv will help attract new families to move New Orleans, helping to stimulate the overall growth of the Jewish community, the Day School, and the kosher industry in the city… It is rare to see a small Jewish community with an Eruv, because there is often minimal interest, and an Eruv is labor intensive and can be costly. Our ability to construct an Eruv here is yet another green flag that the Jewish community of New Orleans is growing in a serious way and is perhaps one of the most engaging and exciting Jewish communities in America.”

Final note: Although carrying is permitted when the Eruv is functional, it is still not permitted to use umbrellas on Shabbat. This is a common misconception.

For more information on the New Orleans Community Eruv, or to get invovled as an “Eruv Inspector,” please contact the synagogoue office: 504-454-5080.



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