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Aug 20, 2014 9:41 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Synagogue Blesses, Celebrates Eruv In Westhampton Beach

Aug 20, 2014 10:42 AM

Leaders of the Hampton Synagogue gave high praise during Saturday’s Shabbat services to the religious boundary that was established in Westhampton Beach earlier this month, hailing it as “a remarkable success and achievement.”

Though the Sunset Avenue synagogue claims neutrality on the issue, its founding rabbi, Marc Schneier, lauded the recently established boundary, known as an eruv, during the Saturday morning service.

“We celebrate this triumph, a triumph I have always seen as a victory for civil rights, justice and religious freedom,” Rabbi Schneier said in front of a crowd of several hundred people.

On Friday evening, before the start of the Sabbath, which in the Jewish faith begins at sundown on Friday, Rabbi Schneier blessed the eruv, which was created roughly three weeks earlier. Under Jewish law, those who are within the eruv’s boundaries are permitted to push and carry objects—including keys, wheelchairs and strollers—on the Sabbath, acts that are normally forbidden by Jewish law.

The boundary was put in place by the East End Eruv Association, or EEEA, a nonprofit that has championed the establishment of an eruv since 2011, engaging the villages of Westhampton Beach and Quogue, as well as Southampton Town, in multiple lawsuits that dispute local sign ordinances, utility pole licensing and First Amendment limitations. Some of that litigation is still ongoing.

The eruv is designated by clear strips of PVC that have been posted on 45 utility poles throughout the village, although members of the EEEA have refused to disclose their exact location, and PSEG Long Island, the power company that licensed the majority of the poles, has not responded to multiple requests inquiring where the markers, called lechis, are located.

During Saturday’s Shabbat service, Hampton Synagogue President Morris Tuchman also celebrated the establishment of the boundary and praised the efforts of the EEEA, particularly the work done by Robert Sugarman, the group’s lead attorney and whose Manhattan-based firm, Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP, has been representing the EEEA pro bono since 2011. “Without them there would be no eruv today,” Mr. Tuchman said, later adding: “This is a great day for us all.”

When the first rumblings of the eruv arose in 2008, representatives from the Hampton Synagogue told the Westhampton Beach Village Board that, under Jewish law, a proclamation is required from a governmental body—either at the village, town, county, state or federal level—in order for an eruv to be ratified. The EEEA has since backed away from that stance, and now maintains that no such action is required and the eruv is fully operational.

In spite of criticism from their opposition—namely, the village and another nonprofit known as the Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach—for this change of course, the EEEA stands firm in that it has followed all the necessary steps in establishing an eruv within the village.

“People can question all they want, but the reality is the East End Eruv Association sought appropriate guidance from rabbinic authorities every step of the way,” EEEA spokesman Hank Sheinkopf said.

While the eruv does allow certain activities within its boundaries on the Sabbath, others are still forbidden, most notably driving. Also, these rules are primarily followed by Orthodox Jews, while Reform Jews typically do not adhere to parts of the religion they view to be archaic.

Still, the establishment of the eruv has raised questions about how it will impact property values within the village and whether it will cause an influx of Jewish residents. On Saturday, a man who identified himself as Isaac Hager, a principal of North Development Group in Brooklyn, speculated that the boundary would drive real estate prices up within the next three years.

Mr. Hager predicted that the eruv would attract young, upper-class Orthodox families to the area because they now know that they can transport their young children in strollers to temple on Saturdays and high holy days. He also said he does not think the eruv would attract ultra-traditional Hasidic Jews, the likes of which have created enclaves in parts of Brooklyn that have eruvin. Mr. Hager equated this segment of the Jewish population to a “cult” and said many of them would not be able to afford homes in the Hamptons.

“The eruv will bring in professionals,” he said. “Lawyers, doctors, businesspeople who do not want to be part of a cult.”

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So they are all about freedom & rights, but won't tell anyone where they have located their new found freedom & rights? Interesting! Does that qualify as an oxymoron?
By G (342), Southampton on Aug 20, 14 11:03 AM
Quote:

“We celebrate this triumph, a triumph I have always seen as a victory for civil rights, justice and religious freedom."
--------------------------------------------------
Holy creeping Jesus!
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 20, 14 1:00 PM
"The eruv will bring in professionals,” he said. “Lawyers, doctors, businesspeople who do not want to be part of a cult.”

Watching the process has been distasteful at best.

By bettyboo (38), Westhampton on Aug 20, 14 2:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sure just like the five town's. Have you seen what the professionals have done to it.
By Red7 (11), Southampton on Sep 5, 14 8:11 PM
$$$$$$$$ - Bringing more Jews to WHB and therefore Bringing more donated money to the temple! Its simple! They really should be ashamed!
By LaxMom (1), East Quogue on Aug 20, 14 2:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why should they be ashamed? How does it affect you having a piece of plastic that you will never notice unless you go look for it?

It has been in communities around the world for thousands of years. And in the USA as well. This is not like a new invention. It does not affect me so I do not care.
By Christina101 (7), West Hempstead on Aug 20, 14 3:44 PM
If you live in Westhampton the town is definitely going to change.Thats a fact
By Red7 (11), Southampton on Aug 20, 14 4:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
When I go to sell I am going to tack on a premium based on the fact that you can walk to from my house…thanks for the tip!
By Hambone (514), New York on Aug 20, 14 7:56 PM
Going to be 5 towns East..
By Red7 (11), Southampton on Aug 20, 14 11:11 PM
Because they violate the establishment clause by being affixed to PUBLIC property?

"The eruv is designated by clear strips of PVC that have been posted on 45 utility poles throughout the village, although members of the EEEA have refused to disclose their exact location, and PSEG Long Island, the power company that licensed the majority of the poles, has not responded to multiple requests inquiring where the markers, called lechis, are located."
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 21, 14 8:00 AM
Nice to know that we spend so much tax money fighting something that does not affect us in any manner.

So far we have spent over $100,000. Let us file more appeals, and waste more money on something that is allowed all over the usa (and world). Somehow we should be special and not allow it for our JEwish community
By Christina101 (7), West Hempstead on Aug 21, 14 9:58 AM
Nice to know that we spend so much tax money fighting something that does not affect us in any manner.

So far we have spent over $100,000. Let us file more appeals, and waste more money on something that is allowed all over the usa (and world). Somehow we should be special and not allow it for our JEwish community
By Christina101 (7), West Hempstead on Aug 21, 14 9:58 AM
> "Nice to know that we spend so much tax money
> fighting something that does not affect us in any manner.

What do you mean by "we" and "us?"

You don't live in the area under discussion, so knock off the "we" and "us!"

I live a lot closer to Westhampton Beach than you do.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 21, 14 2:30 PM
While it is not my primary residence it is for my family. And I am glad how you are just ignoring the point by pointing not factual at all.
By Christina101 (7), West Hempstead on Aug 24, 14 7:35 AM
to Christina101:

In civil law in the United States, winning by imposing legal fees upon your opponent in litigation is an accepted practice. One simply prolongs a case (or threatens to do so) until the other party decides that it's just too expensive to proceed (and settles or concedes), or simply runs out of money.

This is the totality of the legal strategy of the rabbi/Hampton Synagogue/EEEA - and your comment shows that it is working.

It is vital to these folks interest ...more
Aug 21, 14 12:34 PM appended by highhatsize
Apologies for the redundancy cause by my errant editing. The reply should have ended with " ... the secular residents of Westhampton Beach will be history."
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 21, 14 12:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
SLAPP is a prime example.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 21, 14 1:34 PM
Hey highhatsize is it just a coincidence that your pic looks like hitler ??????
By Biba (566), East Hampton on Aug 22, 14 7:15 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Aug 24, 14 7:54 AM
This battle has cost SH, WHB and Quogue $884,837 in fees to outside law firms so far, based on Freedom of Information forms filled out by the three towns. They are being accused of "animus towards observant Jews" in lawsuits that seek damages and legal fees and demand that the towns pay the cost of constructing the eruvim. Tenafly, N.J., had to pay more than $300,000 to the Tenafly Eruv Assn. after it lost legal actions against the TEA. I wonder if SH residents know of the immense current and possible ...more
By JackO'Dwyer (16), New York on Jan 16, 15 2:04 PM
If EEEA has withdrawn any requirement of a public proclamation or similar action, please tell me why I should resent a few plastic strips, invisible for practical purposes, to which some religious adherents assign the power to exempt them from their obligations? None of this affects the surrounding communities any more than the usual lack of attention to signs and other symbols celebrating other religious or ethnic events/expressions.
Absent any governmental endorsement, there's no Constitutional ...more
By Bruce A. (5), Southampton on Aug 26, 15 11:46 AM