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May 23, 2008 11:42 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

The Hampton Synagogue withdraws its application in Westhampton Beach for special religious boundary

May 23, 2008 11:42 AM

The Hampton Synagogue has temporarily suspended its application in Westhampton Beach for the creation of a special religious boundary at least until this fall, according to a letter written to village officials and the community by Rabbi Marc Schneier of the synagogue.

The synagogue first submitted plans for the boundary, known as an eruv, to the village in February. Since then, there have been ongoing discussions on the boundary, which would be delineated by PVC piping on LIPA and Verizon utility poles in the village. The eruv would allow Orthodox Jews to push and carry objects on the Sabbath, activities they are not allowed to do on their holy day. In light of the withdrawal of the application, the village has postponed the May 28 public meeting on the eruv until an unspecified date.

Richard Haefeli, the attorney representing the synagogue in the eruv, confirmed on Friday that the synagogue has temporarily suspended its application in order to educate the community about the special boundary.

“There are a lot of e-mails floating around that show that a vast number of people in the community have no idea what an eruv is,” Mr. Haefeli said. “And, rather than have another meeting where people come up with misinformation about the eruv, the synagogue will ensure that during summer, the majority of people opposing it can be educated.”

Rabbi Schneier states, in his letter, that he will “use this summer to extend the hands of friendship across the faiths and educate all segments of the Westhampton Beach community to precisely what the eruv is.”

He goes on to state that he sees the controversy surrounding the eruv as an “opportunity to promote greater understanding.”

“Well, apparently a lot of people don’t understand it,” Mayor Conrad Teller said about the eruv. “So that’s an excellent suggestion on the synagogue’s part.”

The planned eruv would have encompassed one square mile on the east side of the village. The proposed border was slated to run from Montauk Highway south to Sunswick Lane, with Griffing Avenue and Seafield Lane as its eastern border and Potunk Lane and Oak Street as its western border. The synagogue is located at 154 Sunset Avenue, on the west side of the eruv’s proposed boundary.

Neither Rabbi Marc Schneier or Sam Nussbaum, the executive director of the synagogue, could be reached for comment before publication.

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