New Jersey – Monsey Rabbi Addresses Concerns; As Mahwah Police Chief Says Town Officials Knew About Eruv Two Months Ago


    White PVC piping that serves as part of the Eruv, is seen fixed to a utility pole in Mahwah NJ on JUly 25, 2017 (Sandy, NJ – While Mahwah residents say they were blindsided by the eruv that was erected in their township, at least some village officials were aware of the eruv plans weeks ago.

    As previously reported on VIN News (, Mahwah residents discovered last week that an eruv had been put up in their township after noticing white PVC piping appearing on numerous utility poles.

    Township officials notified the eruv committee that the piping violated a town ordinance against posting signs on utility poles and gave the committee until August 4th to remove the eruv.

    A grassroots effort to remove the eruv, which relies almost entirely on the existing telephone wires instead of the usual string, kicked off Monday night at an emotional meeting held in a local park.

    Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz of the Monsey Eruv said that all of the work done in New Jersey was done legally and with the approval of both the utility company, Orange and Rockland, and local officials. He was quick to note that the eruv extension in New Jersey was intended to be a service Orthodox Jewish residents in the southernmost parts of Rockland County, including Suffern, Airmont and Chestnut Ridge.

    “The only way to get these areas inside the eruv was to go into New Jersey,” said Rabbi Steinmetz. “It is the same as bringing water from one state to another and the same as bringing electricity from one state to another. The only way to be able to include those residents in the eruv was to bring the eruv across the border.”

    Rabbi Steinmetz explained that the act of putting up an eruv does not mean that an area will suddenly be overrun by Orthodox Jewish residents.

    “Manhattan has had an eruv for over 50 years,” observed Rabbi Steinmetz. “Brooklyn has an eruv as do Teaneck, Paramus, Passaic, West Orange and many other towns. Places with large amounts of Jewish people typically have an eruv. It doesn’t mean that an entire area will be taken over. It is simply done as a service for the Jewish people who live there.”

    Chief James Batelli of the Mahwah Police Department said that he received a group email in May from Orange and Rockland advising recipients of the plans for the eruv. While Batelli said that he did not pay much attention to the identity of the other recipients, he confirmed that the email was also sent to the Mahwah Town Hall.
    White PVC piping that serves as part of the Eruv, is seen fixed to a utility pole in Mahwah NJ on July 25, 2017 (Sandy  Eller/
    Mayor Bill Laforet, who has said previously that he was unaware of the eruv until last week, told VIN News that he did not receive the Orange and Rockland email and does not typically receive communications of that nature. Laforet said that the email would have gone to the township’s business administrator Quentin Wiest, who did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.

    Batelli said that the Mahwah Police Department was involved in the installation of the PVC pipes, with a special police detail hired to ensure traffic safety during the installation, which took place in June.

    “It was handled consistently with any other traffic detail,” Batelli told VIN News.

    All of the necessary documentation was approved by the Mahwah Police Department which verified that the contractors had proper insurance and that all documentation required by the township had been submitted.

    “To be honest, it went off without any issues,” said Batelli.

    Batelli declined to comment on whether the piping violated the township’s sign ordinances, saying that that was a matter best left to other agencies within the town.

    “What I will say is that we were aware that Orange and Rockland had given permission for the eruv to be installed,” said Batelli. “They own the poles. The installation company followed all of the required processes for the township.”

    Orange and Rockland spokesman Mike Donovan said that the eruv installations are permitted by law and that the company’s poles are often used to hold equipment such as fiber optic cable, security cameras and license plate scanners.

    “They pay a fee to be on the poles, the same way that the eruv people pay,” explained Donovan, who said that the company charges approximately $13 per month per pole for the eruv.

    Donovan said that he could not comment on whether or not the usage of the Mahwah poles was compliant with township ordinances, noting that it is the responsibility of those who use the poles to make sure that local law allows them to place equipment on the utility poles.

    According to Donovan, the Mahwah eruv consists of 113 poles, each of which has 22 foot long, one inch wide rubber tubing installed flush with the utility pole. Another 40 poles in Upper Saddle River and 27 in Montvale are currently being outfitted with PVC piping for the eruv.

    While Donovan said that the utility has received questions about the eruv in the past, he has never seen the kind of outcry that has erupted in Mahwah.

    “We have never seen anything on this scale before,” said Donovan. “We usually get a flurry of questions right away in a new area but then it kind of dies down.”

    An editorial published Monday on ( chastised Mahwah for its stance on the eruv, arguing that the eruv is “a reasonable religious accommodation” and not signage.

    The editorial also noted that Tenafly officials spent six years engaged in a costly legal battle against an eruv, ultimately allowing the eruv to expand its borders.

    The paper writes, “We understand some may not like the aesthetics of the piping, just as some people don’t like solar panels attached to utility poles. But one, these are utility poles, not majestic oaks. And two, the ability to worship without government interference is a constitutional right.

    There is no constitutional right to a sign that tells motorists this is an Elks town or that a commercial place of business is a mile to the left, but plain markers that allow observant Jews to push a baby stroller are not in the same league.”

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    1. Waiting to see the apologies from all the wise asses who made negative comments about the Eruv commission and how they (Hassidim) do things without permission.

      Why do you wonder about the anti-Semitism posted at the petition and shown at the rally, when you have even worse proudly hosted here on VIN which calls itself the voice of Orthodox Jewish Community.

      • I wasn’t one of the commenters who made any negative comments, but I did level a few criticisms that stand, and this article adds more:

        1] How can they claim to have an eiruv without making a kinyan from the local government for a property right in the reshus harabim?

        2] How is it that this eiruv isn’t being ‘fronted’ or championed or advocated by any Rav or Shul in Mahwah?

        3] What is the purpose of the PVC pipes? If you look at the first photograph, you’ll conclude from the extreme non-vertical angle that neither the pole nor the PVC pipe could possibly be a kosher lechi.

        • Obviously, as is clear from the pre opus comments, there is very little you know about this eruv, or any eruv for that matter.

          You are doing what is classically done when assuming.

        • Here are some simple answers…

          1. How do you know the kinyan wasnt made yet? Maybe they did it already? Perhaps they cheshbon it out once everything is done.

          2. Do they even have eruv requiring khilla in mahwah? They just need it to cross over into Jersey a little.

          3. Please leave paskening to the rabbonim. I’m sure they know better.

          • Mark, (1) Had the kinyan already been made with the local authorities, why are they so surprised that someone is attempting to make an eiruv? The government clearly made no kinyan. What clearly happened was that the utility made a fast buck. (2) If not, it strengthens the fears of the goyim that some kind of kedusha invasion is going to start a block-busting campaign to take over the township, cut the public school budget, etc (3) You don’t know with whom you’re corresponding.

    2. Looks like Mahwah will end up losing a lawsuit they will not be able to afford. Just like Airmont did so many years ago. A lawsuit the residents are still paying for because of their hatred of Jews.

      How appropriate that it is the same “South Monsey” that they are starting with.

      • Really? Like you didn’t know or your want to be funny? Just because you or i wouldn’t use it l’chatchila, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

    3. Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz of the Monsey Eruv said, “The only way to be able to include those residents in the eruv was to bring the eruv across the border.”

      Hey, Rabbi, how many miles are you asking your NY people to be walking on the Holy Sabbath that they need to go through New Jersey? So the Sabbath is for hiking long hikes, now? Let me guess – with baby carriages.

      Can’t you people stay at home, or nearby just one — just one — day a week. You could call it a “day of rest” or something.

      • Thank you for being proof positive that the posters on VIN are as hateful and and empty of knowledge as those who posted their comments on the Mahwah petition.

        • You’re welcome. Learn how keep Shabbos without turning it into a camping expedition every week. Mommy can stay home with her kids one day a week. If you want an eiruv with your neighbors on your own block, fine, but you should know that crossing any open street more than 16 amos (~8 meters, ~25 feet) wide is probably not fixable by any eiruv, no matter what magic wand the eiruv-hockers are waving this week.

    4. If a majority of people who live there don’t want it they should take the high road and remove them. When you threaten people with lawsuits that will sprout hatred.

    5. we have had an Eruv in various parts of Queens for years – it is a line attached to various light poles in th earea as well as highways running through the area are also part of the Eruv –
      This whole Eruv issue in NJ is all part of the uncovering of Latent Anti-Semitism – which sometimes is brought about by many of Hareidi community not knowing or wishing to interact with those who are not Yiddin, or not that frum – we should follow what it says in Pirkei Avot – greet everyone with a smile.


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