Southampton, NY – After a nearly decade-long feud and three different court cases, an eruv in Southampton is that much closer to becoming a reality, The New York Times reports (http://nyti.ms/27ZegMy).
The East End Eruv Association, the force behind the push for the eruv since 2008, planned to drape the eruv along about 30 LIPA and Verizon utility poles, but Southampton and its two villages of Westhampton Beach and Quogue, opposed the move. A portion of the eruv has already been installed, but few in the town seem to have noticed.
In 2014, the U.S. District Court for the East District of New York stated that part of the eruv could be installed. “I’m overwhelmed since last summer, when I see these young families who can now comes to services with their children, or their parents, when they didn’t in the past,” Rabbi Marc Schneier of the Hampton Synagogue told the Times by phone.
But there are many opponents to the eruv, especially secular Jews, including Arnold Sheiffer of the groups Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach and Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv, who says the eruv will “create another ghetto” in the Hamptons.
“As a reform Jew, I find it extremely offensive to create a distinction that this is a Jewish area,” he said. “The courts have been wrong before. Black people couldn’t sit at lunch counters, and women couldn’t vote and abortions were illegal. Case law isn’t always right.”
Other concerns about having an eruv center around the fear that after Lawrence and East Ramapo installed eruvim and the Orthodox Jewish community grew, stores began to close on Saturdays, and issues with public schools developed.
“We’ve only got 10 weeks a year to make a living, so every day counts,” said Kevin Mathews, who works at his mother’s boutique. Mathews said he was worried there would be less business on Saturdays if the eruv was put up.
Southampton town supervisor, Jay Schneiderman, said he is glad a settlement has been reached regarding the eruv. “This barrier created a lot of barriers, and now that it’s behind us, I hope people can start to come together again.”