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Aug 8, 2012 7:13 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Lawsuit Filed Against Westhampton Beach Regarding Eruv

Aug 8, 2012 1:11 PM

A group of local residents filed a federal lawsuit against the Village of Westhampton Beach last week claiming that if a controversial religious boundary, an eruv, is allowed to be installed within the village, it would violate the rights of all non-Orthodox Jewish people in the municipality.

At the same time, on Tuesday, a motion was filed in a pending federal case against the villages of Westhampton Beach and Quogue requesting summary judgement on a request that both municipalities stop obstructing the East End Eruv Association from moving forward with plans for the eruv.

The most recent lawsuit was filed by Arnold Sheiffer and Estelle Lubliner, members of the Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton, which also goes by the name Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv, or JPOE, and names the village, the East End Eruv Association (EEEA), and utility companies Long Island Power Authority and Verizon as defendants in the suit, which states that the establishment of an eruv would be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

An eruv is defined as a continuous physical boundary and visible demarcation of a defined geographic area within which observant Jewish people are able to push strollers and wheelchairs, among other things, on the Sabbath and religious holidays to attend temple. The suit, which was filed with the U.S. District Court on July 30, is seeking a ruling that the implementation of an eruv on public property would be a violation of the Constitution. The suit also seeks monetary reimbursement for violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, but does not specify an amount.

“JPOE and its members do not want to live in a community where their government—i.e., the village and LIPA itself—is reasonably seen and understood by them as endorsing particular religious beliefs and practices that they do not hold or which they affirmatively oppose,” the suit states.

Westhampton Beach Village Attorney Richard Haefeli said this week that the village is currently reviewing the suit and declined to comment on the village’s plans until further review. He added that the group that filed the suit did so out of concern that if the eruv were allowed, the village would become a predominantly Orthodox Jewish community.

“They are bringing a lawsuit against us basically claiming that they believe if the eruv is allowed to be established in the village, it would create an Orthodox Jewish community, and people other than Orthodox Jews may not want to live in such a community, and it is a violation of the Constitution,” Mr. Haefeli said.

Jonathan Sinnreich, of Sinnreich Kosakoff and Messina, LLP of Central Islip, the attorney representing JPOE, was away from his office this week and not available for comment.

Mr. Sheiffer said this week that the suit was filed to ensure that the group had a voice in the ongoing debate. “We wanted to make sure that our rights were heard in court,” Mr. Sheiffer said. “Now and again, the Jewish people of all the areas should be heard in court, and it was felt that the protection of American citizens’ rights under the Establishment Clause is vital to the situation. So we filed the lawsuit to make sure we were protected.”

Robert Sugarman of the Manhattan firm of Weil, Gotshal and Manges, the attorney representing the EEEA, said he does not believe there is legal backing for the case against his clients. “It is the Eruv Association’s view that this case has no merit, and we are considering what response we will make,” he said.

An eruv has been a topic of discussion within the village since 2008, when an initial application was submitted, and subsequently withdrawn, from the village for a much smaller eruv. Two years later, the EEEA started spearheading a campaign to create a larger eruv, which includes attaching lechis—vertical markers—to utility poles, that would encompass parts of Westhampton Beach, Quogue and Quiogue in Southampton Town.

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. In November 2011, a judge denied the lawsuit on the basis that the EEEA had never filed formal applications with any of the municipalities.

Since that time, an application was been filed, and subsequently denied by the Village of Quogue. Applications have yet to be filed with Westhampton Beach or Southampton Town, but Mr. Sugarman said on Tuesday that an application with the town is expected soon.

Both cases are being heard by Judge Leonard D. Wexler of the U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

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It should be fun reading comments on this story.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Aug 8, 12 2:21 PM
2 members liked this comment
LIPA is a state owned utility.

That fact alone should be the end of any debate regarding the possible religious use of the utility poles.

However, we have lawyers...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 8, 12 2:46 PM
Don't we ever!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 8, 12 3:03 PM
Believe it or not, this must actually be said/printed in the terms and conditions regarding an OEM/retail box sale:

"Forcing the CPU into place will not solve the problem and may result in your return policy being voided."

Just in case one needed a subtle reminder that forcing things into place has poor consequences...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 9, 12 7:21 PM
It is impossible to understand how individuals can move into a town or village
and make their religious convictions law??? I believe, the utility poles are
owned by LIPA. The streets and roads are governed by our leaders -- why
are we talking religion and closing down roads to accommodate a religious
faction? In case anyone notices this is the United States of America! By all
means practice your religion, but don't shut down our streets and roads! Thank
By East Ender (64), Southampton on Aug 8, 12 3:50 PM
I am negative on the ERUV, BUT!!! Where did you ever hear about shutting down streets and roads???!!! You sound like a total fool!!!
By DasK (26), on Aug 9, 12 4:47 PM
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Aug 8, 12 4:43 PM
Its really not a big deal, the exist in other communities on Long Island, and those communities have not become orthodox jewish enclaves. Its just some markings on a telephone that mean nothing to anyone outside of the orothodox jewish faith. It wont stop anyone from going about their daily activites, it wont in anyway have a negative affect on anyone in the community. The only thing this eruv has done is show that bigotry is alive and well. OMG the Jews are coming, the Jews are coming. They'll ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Aug 8, 12 7:02 PM
ps, you are exactly correct. This whole issue is being blown completely out of proportion. When the town sponsors a christmas parade with taxpayer dollars, do people complain? Realistic, you cut the crap.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Aug 8, 12 7:10 PM
Pstevens. Are you for real. Cut the crap. You incite more problems then you realize.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Aug 8, 12 7:04 PM
Cant they just use Verizon's telephone poles?
By whb paul (3), Westhampton Beach on Aug 8, 12 10:47 PM
Since Jews have filed this lawsuit, one can scarcely charge that people are opposed to the eruv because they are frightened of Jews, as prior correspondents have alleged.

Those of us opposed to the eruv, Jew and gentile, don't want an exception made to the constitutional prohibition against the posting of religious symbols on public property. It matters not that they are Jewish symbols, they could be Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist. You can't post them on public property, period.

The ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 8, 12 11:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
And your Constitutional credentials are what, exactly, HHS?

On another issue, pstevens, when this was such a hot topic several years ago, cited were municipalities like Lawrence and Cederhurst in which an eruv was installed, and became so overrun with Orthodox who imposed their traditions on the existing communities, that they have been forever changed, and drastically so.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 9, 12 12:04 AM
to Frank Wheeler:

Literacy is my constitutional credential. The Supremes have steadfastly forbidden the erection of religious symbols on public land, the only possible exceptions being when they have a non-religious significance. This is clearly NOT the case here. Most recently, they refused certiorari of a 10th Circuit decision that memorial crosses must be removed from a Utah public highway.

What the Orthodox Jews are seeking here is the imposition of religious symbols QUA ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 9, 12 12:21 AM
In other words, you HAVE no Constitutional credentials.

Okay, just wanted to get that out of the way. Feel free to continue.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 9, 12 10:23 AM
There is no such thing as a Constitutional credential. You may be an attorney schooled in Constitutional law, but not all attorneys are that well versed (e.g. patent attorneys, real estate attorneys etc.). Some professors certainly merit consideration for exceptional knowledge in Constitutional interpretation and application but again...

By Hambone (514), New York on Aug 9, 12 12:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
Stop shouting, Hambone, and you'd better learn to not take things so literally.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 10, 12 1:58 AM
I quote you directly "In other words, you HAVE no Constitutional credentials."

Seems that is literal and it seems your caps button is stuck..

So it's ok for you and not for me?
By Hambone (514), New York on Aug 13, 12 10:16 AM
Is the land around the White House where they have a eruv non-public? I thought that was public land. What Supremes are you referring to? the singers. I think you make things up as you go along high hat.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Aug 9, 12 10:12 AM
to EastEnd68:

Well, you COULD check my reference. (Google, "10th Circuit memorial crosses.") Or you could check the determinative rulings by the Supreme Court. (Here are a few: "McCREARY COUNTY, KENTUCKY, et al. v. AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF KENTUCKY et al.", and "VAN ORDEN v. PERRY, in his official capacity as GOVERNOR OF TEXAS and CHAIRMAN, STATE PRESERVATION BOARD, et al.")

Or you could persevere in ignorance.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 9, 12 11:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
not one of those cases involves eruvs
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Aug 9, 12 12:07 PM
I was going to make a comment, but I am so confused that all I can do is ask did they ever get the guy who killed the nun?
By Tommy Turbo (60), Deep River, CT on Aug 9, 12 1:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
Won't an eruv be justified once they transform the Hampton Arts into a Yeshiva?
By WHBinManhattan (47), Manhattan/Westhampton on Aug 9, 12 4:40 PM

true freedom of religion exists for all who choose to practice. To worship as their faith decries... now, with that in mind, just remember... if you do it for one (Christmas, St. Patty's day, *being that the man is a "SAINT".. do it for all.

Otherwise, in the name of political correctness who's the hypocrite now?

Yay.. let's occupy religious freedom while tossing them back at Buckley's..

By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Aug 9, 12 8:09 PM
Once a year is one thing.

Once a week using municipal property for the use of a specific sect, that is another. There are multiple denominations which celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Here, the case is just for one sect...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 9, 12 8:41 PM
to EastEnd68:

Quote: "not one of those cases involves eruvs"
A trenchant observation. We have no objection to the establishment of an eruv as long as no religious symbols are posted on public property.
to Allergic2Stupidity:

You keep posting your comparison of the eruv to the St. Patrick's Day parade and have repeatedly ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 10, 12 2:17 AM
Well hell.. heaven forbid we actually get along for once.

*waiting for my faith in humanity to be restored*

HHS: THAT would be the point... which you seem to have been informed abut and choose to ignore as well. Instead you choose to spout off and cite laws that (in the final moments of one's life) don't really matter. What matters is how a person treats another. If you feel the urge to call people out onto the carpet while citing legal garbage, don't be surprised when a moral ...more
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Aug 11, 12 2:40 PM
to Allergic2Stupidity:

To the extent (and if) I understand your incoherent post, I agree, we should all try to get along.

To that end, let us resolve to live cooperatively within the comity and seek not privileges that our brethren do not enjoy.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 13, 12 4:42 AM
Suck it up, dollface. It's the unwritten law of the land. We provide defernce to those who are different... aka political correctness.

Just so no one gets offended.
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Sep 10, 12 4:43 PM
I don’t understand what religious symbols people are talking about. The EVEU uses the same u guards that LIPA uses at transformer poles. Also I understand that 48% of the poles are owned by Verizon.
By wingman11978 (2), Southampton on Aug 11, 12 8:00 PM


Minority ownership.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 13, 12 8:35 PM