(JTA) — A town in New Jersey has ordered an Orthodox Jewish organization to take down its eruv, or religious boundary, by early next month.
Mahwah, which is located across the New York state border, told the South Monsey Eruv Fund to remove the white plastic piping from utility poles that it uses for the symbolically enclosed area by Aug. 4. An eruv allows observant Jews to carry objects and push strollers outside of their homes on Shabbat.
The Orthodox community told The Associated Press that it had been given permission to hang the piping by the utility company. But town officials said the piping is banned because it is considered signage.
More than 1,200 people have signed an online petition calling for the eruv to be taken down. Many of the dozens of comments accompanying the petition, titled “Protect the Quality of our Community in Mahwah,” refer to “these people” and express concerns about falling property values. Most of them are anonymous.
“I don’t want these rude, nasty, dirty people who think they can do what they want in our nice town,” one of the comments reads.
Another says: “I do not want the town of Mahwah to turn into an undesirable place to live. These people do not assimilate with other people outside their community. I do not want them controlling our school board and siphoning funds for their yeshivas. Also, they buy houses which they claim is for religious purposes and do not pay taxes. They should stay where they are and leave our town alone.”