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Paterson: Eruv is civil rights struggle

New York’s governor told worshipers at an Orthodox synagogue that their attempt to build an eruv is a civil rights issue.

David Paterson in an appearance Saturday at the Hampton Synagogue on Long Island expressed support for building the symbolic boundary. The largely invisible marker permits Orthodox Jews to carry certain items outside of their homes and push strollers on the Sabbath.

“I’m hoping we can bring tolerance, understanding and compassion to those who want to build an eruv,” Paterson said.

The synagogue has been embroiled in controversy since announcing plans early this year to construct an eruv in Westhampton Beach, a tony seaside community about 80 miles from Manhattan. Some saw anti-Semitic undertones in objections to the plan with warnings that the eruv would serve as a magnet to bring Orthodox Jews to the area.

The objections prompted the synagogue’s rabbi, Marc Schneier, to temporarily withdraw the request. The synagogue is hosting an Aug. 13 community forum to discuss the issue.

“I might stop by,” Paterson said. “I want people to know there is a new sheriff in town.”

The comment earned Paterson a standing ovation.

The New York Post reported that Paterson told the synagogue that a DNA test several months ago revealed “two hits of Jewish origin” in his family history, but the governor did not elaborate.

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