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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Monday, September 25, 2017

International News

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On Friday August 11, the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association along with two Orthodox Jewish NY residents filed a federal lawsuit against the New Jersey town of Mahwah for blocking their attempts to build an ‘eruv’ with white plastic piping. An eruv is a Jewish orthodox practice, utilizing thin poles and string around the boarders of cities or towns to grant them religious permission to walk freely, carry things and push baby carriages on Shabbat. The Orthodox Jewish community group says the town is violating their civil and constitutional rights. Mahwah officials and residents, however, are intent that the markers violate local laws which prohibit signs on trees, rocks or utility poles.  

As reported by VIN News, in a unanimous vote on Thursday, the Mahwah Town Council decided to begin issuing summonses as of Aug. 18, if the eruv is not removed. Yehudah Buchweitz, a lawyer representing the South Monsey Eruv Fund, a subsidiary of the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association, said that they will not take down the eruv. “There’s no law that I’m aware of that actually prohibits the lechis,” Buchweitz said. 

At the end of July, the newly installed eruv’s PVC piping, installed to utility poles on Sparrowbush Road and East Mahwah Road, were vandalized and damaged in four separate locations. The police investigated the incident as a hate crime. Mahwah residents were apparently apprehensive of the changes that the eruv would have on their township, and about an influx of Jews moving into the neighborhood. About 600 Mahwah residents attended a meeting set up to find a way to have the eruv removed from their streets. The town has also been considers a new law limiting its parks and playgrounds to New Jersey residents only. This too was in response to neighbors complaining that Jews with NY license plates have been frequenting the parks in the town, which lies about 33 miles northwest of NYC.

“The object, motivation and effect of the actions of the township is to suppress the religious practices of the plaintiffs and certain other Jews who reside in Airmont and other parts of Rockland County (in New York),” the lawsuit states. “The eruv presents no aesthetic, safety, traffic, fiscal or other concern to Mahwah.” 

Mahwah’s Mayor Bill Laforet has asked the town’s council to desist on issuing summonses and to rather open negotiations with the eruv group. Laforet said a legal dispute would prove costly for the town. Indeed, this is not the first time a township has fought to take down an eruv. In Tenafly, NJ, a six-year legal clash concluded allowing the eruv to stay up, and the town was forced to reimburse the Jewish group over $300,000 in legal fees.

By:  Ilana Siyance