A favorable ruling on one aspect of the ongoing legal effort to build an eruv in Long Island’s Hamptons was made this week.
Magistrate Judge Kathleen Tomlinson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York determined that the East End Eruv Association, Verizon New York and the Long Island Lighting Company are authorized to attach wooden or plastic strips known as “lechis” on telephone poles in West Hampton Beach to create a virtually invisible ritual enclosure, allowing observing Jews to carry items within the enclosure on Shabbat.
She rejected the argument that the lechis, comprised of long strips, 5/8 of an inch wide and blended in with the color of the poles, would qualify as illegal signage.
Robert Sugarman, the lead attorney for the eruv association, said he was heartened by the ruling in the case that has gone on for several years, and he was hopeful work could soon go forward on the West Hampton Beach eruv.
Judge Tomlinson requested further information before ruling on the status of the eruv in two other municipalities: Quogue and Southampton.
Sugarman noted that there are about 15,000 telephone poles in the overall area and that about 60 would be affected.
Critics of the eruv have said in legal arguments that it would “alter the essential character of the neighborhood.” Advocates contend that the real issue is an animus toward observant Jews.