An eruv wire seen at the edge of a settlement.
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)
NEW YORK – The state attorney general of New Jersey has filed a lawsuit against Monsey’s neighboring township of Mahwah, arguing that a pair of ordinances adopted last summer by its council discriminate against Orthodox Jews by seeking to force the removal of PVC pipes placed as markers for an eruv – the demarcated surrounding of an area that allows people to carry on Shabbat.
Christopher S. Porrino, the state’s attorney general, who filed the nine-count complaint to the Bergen County Superior Court on October 24, condemned the actions of Mahwah’s leaders and a few of its 25,000 citizens. He recalled the “1950s-era white-flight suburbanites who thought to keep African-Americans from moving into their neighborhoods.” He also dropped words like “hatred” and “bigotry”.
Mahwah is the largest township in Bergen County, NJ, on the border with New York State near Monsey, the city populated by one of America’s largest haredi (ultra-orthodox) community.
In recent years, the South Monsey Eruv Fund has begun to place PVC pipes on light and utility poles around their community, including in the area of Mahwah, that mark the local eruv for observant Jews. Without such a symbolic enclosure, Jewish law prohibits the carrying of movable belongings, including strollers and keys. The fund has the permission of the Orange & Rockland Utility Company.
Residents of the town expressed concern that this eruv demonstrates the intentions of ultra-Orthodox residents to settle in the city.
Thus began an ongoing battle that includes expressions of anti-Semitic character, a petition signed by more than 1,200 residents and the ordinances.
The first ordinance, which went into effect at the end of July, limited the use of Mahwah’s recreational facilities to New Jersey residents.
The second, which was introduced but not passed, was the expansion of an existing ordinance that forbade signals on utility poles – adjusted to include any “device or other matter.”
It effectively would have prohibited the creation of an eruv.
However, The Jewish Link of New Jersey quoted sources from the town of Mahwah saying that the eruv represents “the Jews expanding their horizons into new neighborhoods. Their feeling is that this will inevitably lead to big houses, traffic, pollution, higher taxes and more.”