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SEEGP Comments on Planned Southend Eruv

The Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation have submitted a planning application for an Eruv across a large area of Southend.

The large structure will consist of poles and interconnecting wires placed in forty locations around Southend.



What is an Eruv?
An eruv is an area within which observant Jews can carry or push objects on the Sabbath, (which lasts from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday), without violating a Jewish law that prohibits carrying anything except within the home. 

An eruv must be ‘completely enclosed’. The area is not enclosed by building a special wall around it – most of it is enclosed by existing natural boundaries like railway lines or walls. What matters is that the area is completely enclosed by boundaries that conform to Jewish law. 

Jewish law says that Jews must not carry any item, no matter how small or for whatever purpose in a Reshus HaRabim (public domain – outside their home) on the Sabbath, even if they are allowed to carry them within their home. 
An eruv mixes the boundary between the area within the home and the area outside it. The result is that within an eruv Orthodox Jews can follow the same rules on the Sabbath that they would in their homes.

Reform and secular Jews generally disapprove of eruvs – they don’t see any need for them. Orthodox and Conservative Jews approve of them.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are very strict about the rules for an eruv and often refuse to recognise its validity for legal reasons.

(from BBC)


 

The Planning Application (17/01263/FUL) details the erection of “street furniture comprising groups of poles (usually two) between which is suspended, at high level, a wire to designate the perimeter of a nominated Eruv at various locations around the borough.

The South East Essex Green Party does not object to the widening in mobility of faith groups, but we are wary of the further connotations of the proposed Eruv.

Our reservations regarding the planned Southend Eruv are as follows:

  • It potentially breaches human rights by giving a Jewish symbolism to the walls and fences of non-Jews.
  • It potentially breaches the human rights of non-Jewish people forced to pass through symbolic Jewish structures.
  • It is religiously divisive within the Jewish faith and externally, and may, therefore, incite anti-Semitism.
  • There is the potential to set an unwanted precedent of demarcated Religious zones, which contradicts the principles of a multi-faith and multicultural town.
  • Many non-Orthodox Jews argue that it encourages separateness and discourages assimilation – a view we also agree with.

While we recognise the potential positive attributes the Eruv garners our local Jewish community in way of access and mobility, we cannot support it. 

 


Further Reading:

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/15574871.Jewish_community_wants_structure_that_will_let_them_break_the_Sabbath/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/living/eruv_1.shtml

 

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