The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 4 March 2006 / 4 Adar I 5766

Closed Areas and Open Arms

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

“This was a dark period in Tenafly history. If I had one wish, it would be that the Orthodox community was welcomed with open arms.”

This is how Joseph Salvatore, a non-Jewish member of the Tenafly, New Jersey Borough Council, summarized the six-year battle over the eruv created by observant Jews in his community.

It all began in 2000 when plastic strips were placed on utility poles with permission from two utility companies and the county. Some people in Tenafly were unhappy about the eruv – a halachic arrangement of symbolic enclosure permitting carrying on Shabbat – encouraging an influx of Orthodox Jews. They pressured the Borough to ban the strips, setting off a long legal battle that was finally won by the Tenafly Eruv Association last month.

Not only did the Borough agree by a 5-0 vote to approve the eruv strips but even agreed to pay $325,000 to cover the court costs incurred by the eruv supporters.

Now, perhaps, Shabbat observant Jews will be welcomed with open arms in Tenafly.

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