Thursday, January 27, 2005

Rabbi Mordechai Gafni Series Part 11: Sets up community eruv


At 9:16 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

June 24, 1988

It only takes a string to link ancient customs to modern-day living.

A string that follows along a five-mile radius around the Boca Raton Synagogue is connecting the age-old Jewish custom of an ''eruv'' from utility pole to utility pole.

The custom: Jews who observe an ancient Hebrew law do not carry anything, including babies, on the Sabbath in the public domain.

The problem: at least one parent and most young children do not go to Sabbath services.

The solution: create an eruv -- a spiritual boundary of sorts -- around the community that allows Jews to carry items and small children. The eruv would create a symbolic private area for the Jews. It is symbolic because in reality the five-mile radius includes non-Jewish residences and businesses and is still a public area.

The method: attach strings from one utility pole to another, thus using modern-day structures to abide by ancient tradition. The strings and poles form symbolic doors, signifying a difference between the private area and the public area.

The idea initially baffled local Florida Power & Light Co. officials, said Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz, spiritual leader of Boca Raton Synagogue.

''This is not anything new,'' Winyarz said. ''We told them to call their Miami Beach office, and they learned that this is done all the time.''

Although there are four other eruvs in South Florida, this is the first in Palm Beach County, Winyarz said.

The boundaries of the eruv are the Florida Turnpike on the west, Powerline Road on the east, Southwest 18th Street on the south, and Palmetto Park Road on the north.

The congregation needed permission from utility officials to attach the string.

By Jewish law, the string must be higher than the top of the poles,
creating a ''door'' effect. Some utility wires are placed as such, and required no changes. Where wires didn't do the job naturally, congregation members made the top line of the eruv by placing PVC pipes on the poles, making the vertical part of the boundary shorter, and running the string from pole to pole.

Another problem cropped up with a canal that runs through the area. One solution would have been to erect poles in the area to continue the eruv. But the congregants would need government approval to do so.

Rabbi Abraham Blumenkrentz, a New York-based religious law expert who has helped to construct eruvs in other parts of Florida and in the United States, said the canal was deep enough to act as a natural boundary.

Winyarz himself will benefit from the creation of the eruv as he is the father of an infant. Without a babysitter, the Jewish law puts his wife, Lisa, in the position of having to stay home with their child, Eytan Yechiel, rather than attend services.

''It provides an incentive for people with children to go to the temple,'' Blumenkrentz said.

Winyarz estimated that 126 Jewish families will benefit from the
construction of the eruv. The construction is being handled by congregation member Shimone Levine, who is in the home-repair business.

Once completed, the eruv must be inspected prior to each Sabbath to ensure that the eruv has not been broken at any place.

(Staff graphic/LYNN C. OCCHIUZZ)

(Staff photo/SEAN DOUGHERTY)From left, Shimon Levine, Abraham Blumenkrentz and Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz check a telephone pole.
PHOTO (1) MAP (1)


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