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Jan 23, 2012 3:19 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Eruv Application Is Filed With Quogue Village

Jan 25, 2012 2:07 PM

A group that has been trying to create a religious boundary in western Southampton Town for the past two years filed a formal application with Quogue Village last week, marking the first time that the East End Eruv Association has shared specific details of its proposal, one that has divided the community.

At Friday’s Quogue Village Board meeting, Mayor Peter Sartorius confirmed that the East End Eruv Association had filed a formal application, dated January 16, requesting that the village allow the installation of lechis, or wooden markers, on utility poles throughout Quogue. The markers would delineate the borders of a symbolic boundary, called an eruv. If established, the mostly invisible boundary would allow Orthodox Jews to engage in certain activities, such as the pushing of baby strollers and wheelchairs, and carry items, like cellphones, glasses, canes and keys, that are largely prohibited on the Sabbath.

“We hope the application will be processed appropriately,” Hank Sheinkopf, the owner of Sheinkopf Ltd., a public relations firm in Manhattan who is representing the EEEA, wrote in an email on Monday. He did not say if or when his group would file similar applications with Westhampton Beach Village or Southampton Town, which have also been identified as possible locations for the eruv.

Mr. Sartorius said the application essentially seeks his village’s permission to install the lechis on designated poles. “The court basically told them to apply,” he said, referring to a recent court decision that denied the EEEA’s request for the establishment of a temporary eruv. The mayor added that the Village Board is now reviewing the application and will discuss it in public at its March meeting.

In November, a judge denied a motion filed by the EEEA, a nonprofit organization, that sought the establishment of a temporary religious boundary in the western half of the town. The proposed boundary, if created, would encompass most of Westhampton Beach Village and parts of Quogue Village and the hamlet of Westhampton.

At the time, Judge Leonard D. Wexler of the U.S. District Court in Central Islip denied the request, stating that the EEEA never filed formal applications for the lechis with Westhampton Beach, Quogue and Southampton Town. His ruling also suggested that the group file its applications before seeking relief.

In January 2011, the EEEA filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that the three municipalities were discriminating against Jewish people, citing their objection to the proposed boundary even though a formal application was never submitted. On January 3, Brian Sokoloff, an attorney with Sokoloff Stern LLP in Westbury, who is representing Westhampton Beach Village in the matter, filed a motion in support of the village’s request that the case be dismissed. Both Quogue and Southampton Town are expected to file similar motions.

Submitted by the Manhattan-based law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, the application now on file with Quogue seeks permission for the EEEA to install lechis on 48 utility poles in the village, and explains, in detail, what the markers would look like and where they would be located.

The group wants to install two lechis on 46 of the poles and a single lechi on two of the poles for an “indefinite and unlimited period of time.” Some of the utility poles are located along Montauk Highway, at the intersections of Quogue Street, Jessup Avenue and Old Depot Road. Additional lechis would be installed along Scrub Oak Road, Old Depot Road, Bayberry Lane, Old Country Road and Old Main Road, according to the application.

The lechis themselves, the document states, would be 5/8-inch-thick, half-round strips of PVC piping that would be painted to blend with the surroundings. Each lechi would measure between 10 feet and 15 feet in length. A typical utility pole is approximately 40 feet high. The lechis would be fastened to utility poles using galvanized nails.

The application states that, according to the safety requirements of Verizon, which owns some of the utility poles, the lechis should be installed close to ground level and cannot come within 3 inches of the lowest cable on the pole.

“The lechis would be almost invisible to an average observer ... and would have no impact on any member of the community except for those individuals who would be able to freely practice their religion as a result of the construction and maintenance of the eruv,” the application reads.

The EEEA would be responsible for conducting weekly inspections of the lechis and maintaining them. A local rabbi, the application states, would visit Quogue every Friday afternoon to ensure that the lechis are still in the correct places. Additionally, the application states that the EEEA has permission from both Verizon and the Long Island Power Authority to install the lechis to their utility poles, as long as the village does not object to them.

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and now it's just a half dozen people....their hope is to attract many, many more...once the foot is in the door, look out.
By clamdigger (85), Quogue on Jan 23, 12 4:30 PM
2 members liked this comment
What a bigoted and moronic thing to say
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 23, 12 10:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
By the way, I clearly did not mean to like your stupid comment
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 23, 12 10:33 PM
Wasn't "clearly" at all. It seems an example of loss of self control on your part with a deadly mouse in your hand. :)
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jan 23, 12 10:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Where else does one spend this type of money for the benefit of so few?
By Hambone (514), New York on Jan 24, 12 11:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wow! Deja vu all over again. Since the Quogue Village Board is already on record as opposing posting symbols on utility poles, the next step will be back to court (state & then federal.) Depending how far E3A wants to push this, ten years from now and millions of dollars in public expense later we will have a holding that, "No, you can't post religious symbols on public property. (Surprise!)"

But we will be ever indebted to E3A for clarifying this unsettled(?) point, however much it ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 23, 12 4:49 PM
The use of public property, such as telephone poles which are used by ALL residents for one means, or another does not confrom to the separation of church, and state. LIPA is a municipally owned, non-profit utility. A GOVERNMENT OWNED CORPORATION. Everyone uses those poles for power, or an old fashioned landline phone, and each is citizen of this "State", be it New York, or the United States itself. Every home pays a bill to LIPA, unless they are 100% "off the grid", or sell power to them.

No ...more
Jan 23, 12 7:01 PM appended by Mr. Z
The Long Island Power Authority or LIPA, a municipal subdivision of the State of New York, was created under the Long Island Power Act of 1985 to acquire the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO)'s assets and securities. A second Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), a wholly owned subsidiary of the first, acquired LILCO's transmission and distribution system in May 1998. ~ Wiki
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 23, 12 7:01 PM
Let me rephrase that:

It is unconstitutional under the First Amendment for LIPA utility poles to be used for religious purposes.

End of line.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 23, 12 7:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
Like putting a creche on the lawn in front of Town Hall?
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Jan 23, 12 8:33 PM
Well, that comparison is not entirely accurate. The creche, like a menorah is a seasonal symbol, while the eruvin is not. The Shabbat occurs weekly, year in, and year out. It will be erected permanently. There are some instances where it (a creche) was ruled permissible, because not just a creche was displayed. Other religious "symbols of the season" were included as well.

The flaw in the comparison, is that this boundary only applies to a minor, select group of people of a particular ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 23, 12 10:42 PM
So the churches should cut down their steeples and not display their crosses for all to see?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 24, 12 5:39 AM
Uhhh.... NO.

That statement is a SHINING example of the "black & white" thread of blanket thought in out society.

NO church is built upon "State" ground.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 24, 12 9:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Did you write this in jest? Surely you can't think this analogy holds.
By Hambone (514), New York on Jan 24, 12 11:50 PM
Specifically, which analogy?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 26, 12 7:35 PM
Given that the concept of marking telephone poles was that of a Rabbi then a Rabbi can clearly end this issue. Create a map delineating the boundry, give it to all who care and the law is observed. Which is the purpose of the boundry in the first place.
By lazymedic (100), southampton on Jan 24, 12 11:11 AM
thats my confusion as well. If its an invisble boundary of sorts, why cant the congregation (?) simply decide amongst themselves where it is. Why the need to apply for permits?
By tm (174), mtk on Jan 24, 12 12:44 PM
The religious law requires a PHYSICAL boundary.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 24, 12 10:19 PM
I still dont understand why they cant just say, the boundary is this post, to that post, etc.

Why do they need muncipal permits to declare it themselves?

Is is that the posts themselves need to be marked with something?

I have no dog in this fight, just curious.
By tm (174), mtk on Jan 25, 12 12:16 PM
In accordance with Halakha, the eruv must be a physical boundary. That means not only lechis, but some type of wire, or fishing line connecting those religious symbols, they propose to attach to municipal property. They also require an authority to condone the eruv, such as LIPA which owns the utility poles.

In the Tenafly case, things were different because PSE&G is a publicly traded, investor owned company. In other words, it is not a municipal utility, but a public utility.

Their ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 26, 12 7:45 PM
Well, first of all, a 1 inch round piece of wood is NOT a religious symbol. Simply a boundary marker that will mean nothing to ANYONE other than fundamentalists no different from ALL the other fundamentalists in the world. Only difference here is that our local ones do not kill people over their beliefs.
That said: Jews being rational logical people should be able to find a way around all this embarrassing conflict....as they usually do with most religious things that are inconvenient, and ...more
By DasK (26), on Jan 24, 12 6:14 PM
Your opinion is irreleveant, because the use of PUBLIC property is required to create said boundary. The freedom NOT to have someone else's beliefs impede, or incur upon your citizenship, and freedom is one of the founding principles of this nation.

End of line.
Jan 24, 12 10:01 PM appended by Mr. Z
Honestly, after all I have read and researched, they may as well just call themselves "Luddites", for Christ's sake...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 24, 12 10:01 PM
Forget about the court of public opinion. The eeea will shove it down the throats of anyone who oppose them. What a shame they can't get along with their neighbors. Sue. Sue. Sue.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jan 24, 12 10:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
to Disk:

Why is a quotidian object without overt religious significance but which symbolizes something in the canon of a particular religion NOT a religious symbol? Is this not a question for the Court to decide? Considering the strict interpretation of the 1st Amendment that prevails, I would think that the Court would consider it to be just what the group trying to install it intends it to be.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 25, 12 12:13 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Jan 27, 12 7:50 AM
If I recall correctly, the central legal issue will be whether or not the towns have been diligent in removing other signs from telephone poles. If so, then their refusal to allow the eruv should be upheld as consistent with their past practice. If not, then their refusal will likely be deemed discriminatory and the EEEA will prevail.
By CoweeDewey (110), East Quogue on Jan 25, 12 10:45 AM
I believe that is one of their arguing points, but none of those signs were a.) used for a religious purpose, b.) erected permanently, c.) these are not "signs", they are religious symbols called "lechis".

Their arguement does not hold water, but the fact that the utility poles are municipal property does.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 25, 12 5:44 PM
please oh please do not let the eruv go thru then they will begin to dictate where or when we can enter the village these folks with eruvs have been known to stone cars in Monsey NY on their sabbath days and holydays this is america dont dictate separate church and state as the adage goes.
By fyi (17), westhampton on Jan 25, 12 4:54 PM
You're kidding, right? I am sure your fellow bigots will jump to your defense, but your post tops them all for sheer prejudice and blind ignorance.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jan 26, 12 1:02 PM
2 members liked this comment
we cannot even get a light on our street to prevent crimes like robberies or accidents due to darken areas and these people waste our village dollars on their nonsense. It has not existed in the past who needs this now????
Enoughbickering and wasting money move on without an eruv
By fyi (17), westhampton on Jan 25, 12 4:59 PM
I reiterate, I am against the subterfuge of an eruv which allows some to get around their own religious dictates. However I laugh at the idea that a little round piece of wood will infringe on ANYONE's rights. It is NOT a christmas tree, cross,crescent etc. The only ones who will ever see them are the ones who have to search them out so they can be legal, and not sin...
By DasK (26), on Jan 30, 12 4:23 PM
“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

~ Seneca

"All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry."

~ Edgar Allan Poe
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 30, 12 4:42 PM
Will the ACLU go to bat for those opposed to this?!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 31, 12 10:40 PM
Are they really going to push a wheelchair from Quogue to WHB? If you recall that was one of the points in the original application...the ability to get to Temple....
By Hambone (514), New York on Mar 1, 12 12:19 PM