Jews in London Neighborhood Still Wait for Creation of ‘eruv’

Erecting 82 wooden posts and stringing some 1,000 yards of nylon line around them may take longer than you think.

If the materials are being used for an “eruv” in London, the process may take more than six years.

Orthodox Jews are not permitted to carry anything — even a key — outside their private property on Shabbat. The artificial boundary known as an eruv turns otherwise public space into an extension of private space, making the act of carrying possible.

Most of the time, eruvim are created without great fuss and difficulty. They exist in more than 130 cities worldwide and in every major town in Israel.

But six years after the first formal application to create an eruv in the northwestern part of London, Orthodox Jews continue to wait. The area is home to some 50,000 Jews, 10,000 of whom observe Shabbat.

Most of the 11-mile boundary consists of existing structures, highways and subway lines.

But at 38 locations, there are gaps, which need to be connected using the posts and string. That process should take about two to three months, according to one rabbi here.

But now, redevelopment along boundary and construction in the area will cause additional delays.

From the start, the eruv generated fierce opposition, a good part of it from non-Orthodox Jewish residents of the 6.5-square-mile area that the eruv will encompass.

These residents objected to living in what they called a ghetto.

One man, who was to have a pole in front of his house, said, “To me, it is the equivalent of a Nazi symbol.”

Proponents countered that those who opposed the eruv were ashamed to be Jewish.

The eruv is sponsored by the United Synagogue, the main organizational body of Orthodox Jewry in England. Four major United Synagogue congregations, in addition to several independent Orthodox synagogues, are within the eruv area.

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