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The Eruv as Contested Jewish Space in North America

Summary and Keywords

The eruv is perhaps the most creative, confounding, and contested spatial construct in Judaism. Territorially, it demarcates the urban space within which prohibitions otherwise attached to Sabbath observance for Orthodox Jews become permitted. While virtually imperceptible to the human eye, eruvin (pl.) sanctify what would otherwise be sacrilegious. An eruv thus creates permissive religious space for Jews on Sabbath. Hundreds of cities worldwide, including urban areas across North America, are home to an eruv. Notwithstanding their prevalence and undetectable physical imprint on urban landscapes, the establishment of eruvin has unleashed intense hostility and resistance in some locales. Opposition has typically been mounted by a surprisingly mixed array of critics including non-Jews, non-Orthodox Jews, and dissenting Orthodox Jews. The eruv highlights, in compelling fashion, the spatial challenges of navigating faith, ritual, secularism, and pluralism in contemporary American cities. Seemingly ethereal religious beliefs can occasion radically different perceptions of public space.

Keywords: Eruv, Jewish, Orthodox Judaism, secularism, public space, religious imagination

Religion requires space. Urban landscapes have long been marked, even defined, by religious artifacts—places of worship, shrines, symbols, and cemeteries, to name the most evident. In contemporary America, faith-based claims on public space have sometimes provoked fierce opposition and controversy. At stake are conflicting interpretations of religion, religion-state relations, identity, freedom, and rights. The eruv is among the most longstanding—and still volatile—flashpoints of religious spatial conflict in America. Its terrain is the focus of this article.

The eruv is perhaps the most creative, confounding and contested spatial construct in Judaism. It has rightly been called “an unusual urban boundary.”1 At once an intriguing blend of imagined and precisely mapped space, the eruv is prone to wildly differing interpretation by urban residents. The word “eruv” in Hebrew connotes joining, combining, and mixing together. An eruv is a tangible—though virtually invisible—urban demarcation that joins, combines, and mixes urban spaces that would otherwise have very different status and performative requirements for Orthodox Jews. The eruv sanctifies within its space what would otherwise be sacrilegious.

As we will see, Orthodoxy holds Sabbath observance as a day of rest to be a supreme Jewish obligation. This entails a prohibition of activities associated with labor, including any carrying, pushing or pulling of objects outside the home into public space. Strictly followed, such restrictions would themselves—ironically—seriously undermine Jewish religious observance on the Sabbath. Unable to carry house keys, some might choose home security over synagogue attendance; strollers, wheelchairs, or canes could not be used to enable the mobility-challenged to attend synagogue; and little communal socializing could occur, as no food or children’s needs could be carried out of the home. The eruv is Orthodox Judaism’s response to this carrying conundrum.

Since Jewish law, halacha, prohibits carrying in public space on Sabbath, the eruv’s ingenious purpose is to re-define such space as private for Orthodox Jews. The eruv is thus a religious spatial construct intended to alleviate a constraining religious restriction. Conforming to rabbinic technical requirements, the eruv uses both natural and built elements of the urban environment—rivers, streets, and fishing line hung on utility poles, for instance—to enclose expansive urban space so that it can be religiously re-defined as private space. So re-coded, Orthodox Jews are now free to carry within its borders on the Sabbath.

To the public eye, eruv space is imperceptible. Without any signage, it neither announces its presence nor alters spatial access or usage by non-Orthodox Jews. However for Orthodox Jews, the eruv’s re-coding of public space creates critically important permissive space. Eruv proponents typically laud its enhancement of the Sabbath experience by enabling all to participate in synagogue services and communal gatherings.

Eruvin exist in hundreds of cities worldwide, including urban areas across North America. For all their pervasiveness and virtual invisibility, eruvin have sparked intense conflict both within Orthodox Jewry, and between this community and the broader society. Establishing an eruv requires imaginative flexibility and accommodation from all concerned: a faith community, civil society, and civic authorities. The potential for friction is great: what some regard as religious law or religious accommodation, others sometimes see as religious subterfuge, religious takeover of public space, or violation of the separation of religion and the state.

Much significance is thus freighted onto the slender overhead fishing line typically used to demarcate an eruv’s boundaries. Some eruv disagreements have been bitter, requiring court—even Supreme Court—intervention. Examining the subject of eruv is a window onto the spatial challenges of navigating faith, ritual, secularism, and pluralism in contemporary cities. As the scholar of religious law, Alexandra Lang Susman, notes: “The eruv becomes a snowballing signifier for current debates on pluralism, multiculturalism, and the place of religion in society.”2

This article explores its subject as the spatial interplay of religious injunction, claims, and contestation. It begins by identifying the eruv’s underpinnings in religious text and law. Next is an account of eruvin in contemporary North America. Five case studies then examine how conflicts over an eruv have played out in different cities. The conclusion addresses the eruv’s implications for religion in the public realm.

Judaism, the Sabbath, and the Eruv

It is difficult to overestimate the significance of the Sabbath for Judaism and Jews. The injunction to observe and keep holy the Sabbath is frequently repeated in the Torah (Jewish Bible), and ranks among God’s Ten Commandments to the Israelites. The Talmud, Judaism’s premier source of rabbinic guidance, contends that observing the Sabbath is comparable to following all other biblical injunctions combined; and conversely, that desecrating the Sabbath is deemed a repudiation of the entire Bible.

Religious practice among Jews generally ranges from more literal to more liberal observance of traditions and texts. Jewish denominations such as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist vary in their orientation to theology and ritual. Since Orthodoxy regards Torah as divine revelation, it is the most literally observant, regarding religious law, halacha, as “eternal, unchangeable, and the sole guide for everyday life and behavior.”3 An estimated 10 percent of America’s 5.3 million Jews are Orthodox.4 It is this Orthodox minority of Jews who turn to the eruv as a solution to their challenge of Sabbath observance.

Orthodox Jews honor the Sabbath as a day of rest from work and labor by proscribing a wide variety of otherwise everyday activities. Beyond abstaining from one’s regular job or business on Sabbath, this includes the prohibition of carrying in public space. And for some two thousand years, Jewish religious law has sanctioned the eruv as an easement of this particular sweeping restriction. Codified by rabbis and recognized by believers, the eruv symbolically re-defines public and private space on the Sabbath.

In Jewish law, the key principle differentiating private from public space is not ownership, but access and enclosure. The private realm is understood as an enclosed place of private purpose, typically a home. The public realm refers to open, publicly accessible space, which includes streets, highways, parks, undeveloped lands, institutions, commercial districts, etc. For an eruv to be in accord with Jewish law, it must conform to a host of detailed technical requirements. First, the space to be re-defined by an eruv must be tangibly, physically enclosed. This is what re-codifies the space as private for carrying purposes. Secondly, there is a religious requirement that a civic authority must recognize and signal approval of the eruv. Typically, an eruv strives to enclose the entire territory within which Orthodox Jews would wish to walk on the Sabbath. Depending on urban topography, an eruv may encompass a single residential neighborhood of homes, synagogues, parks, etc. Or it may extend throughout a city’s entire urban reach. Once established, an eruv would enable carrying within its bounded space, now understood as private.

Like a private home, an eruv must be fully enclosed with the equivalent of walls and doorways. The wall-equivalents can include natural borderlines such as rivers, streams, ravines and mountains, as well as a variety of man-made infrastructure markers such as bridges, fences, highways, and train lines. Since an eruv must be fully and contiguously enclosed, thin virtually invisible wires strung high along utility poles serve as “closed doorways” preserving the integrity of fully demarcated and contained space now deemed private for religious purposes. Thin, transparent fishing line is the favored connecting tissue for eruvin.

An eruv therefore represents a combination of real and re-imagined space. Defined by a combination of pre-existing natural and built environments, occasionally linked by indistinguishable, slender overhead wiring, its existence is imperceptible. Moving about a city, there is no way of knowing whether one is inside or outside an eruv—or whether one even exists. No public signs identify it, and it is indistinguishable by any of its border-markers. What matters is that the eruv has been approved by a rabbi as fulfilling all the requisite legitimizing standards, and that its boundaries are known to observant Orthodox Jews. As religion philosopher Michelle Rapoport observes: “What makes these boundaries real—what renders them their meaning—is recognition and acceptance.”5 The eruv, as a distinct spatial entity, depends ultimately on belief: it embodies both tangible and transcendent religious impulses.

Once constructed, the eruv must be checked every week to assure there have been no ruptures in its border enclosures by occurrences such as fallen wires, dried-up streams, inclement weather, etc. A ruptured eruv places Orthodox Jews in serious jeopardy by misleading them into violation of the Sabbath. Eruv inspection, maintenance, and communication are therefore critical, ongoing tasks. The Orthodox community is informed of the eruv’s status (typically by telephone hotline, email, or website check-in) prior to Friday’s sundown, which marks the beginning of Sabbath. The signal that the eruv meets rabbinic standards signifies that carrying will again be permitted within its space.

Given the importance of assuring eruv reliability, a host of pragmatic considerations will often influence the determination of its precise borderlines. As the official website of the Boston eruv states, this may even entail military-like stratagems, noting: “The critical element is to make sure that the borders are ‘defensible.’ That is, the borders should be composed of materials and constructions that are durable and stand little chance of damage over time.” In Boston’s case, the eruv cost approximately $70,000 to build, in 1992, and incurs over $20,000 costs per year to operate and maintain. Manhattan’s eruv costs over $100,000 annually to maintain.6 Eruv construction and maintenance costs are borne by the Orthodox community itself.

Establishing an eruv also requires the approval of civil authorities. While originally mandated by rabbinic injunction, it is today entrenched in the processes of municipal planning. Typically, to ensure enclosure, many points along an eruv’s perimeter need to be attached by the wires strung on public utility poles or buildings. This cannot be done without the approval of municipal authorities.

Several important dynamics flow from this requirement for civil support. First, in the Jewish diaspora, it brings an otherwise often self-contained (even self-segregated) Orthodox Jewish community into direct contact with civil authorities. When such permission is granted, religious studies professor Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert observes, it can be regarded as the mainstream or dominant society’s “support of the legitimate presence of a Jewish community in the neighborhood or city.”7 Further, it connotes support of a religious community’s ability and right to define certain physical spaces in accordance with its religious beliefs. Requiring local government approval to establish an eruv also makes this an open public decision, typically involving broad community consultation. In some locales, we will see, attempts to establish an eruv have given rise to acrimonious debate.

The Eruv in America

The eruv has a long history, stretching from ancient times through to our own. The first eruv in America was established in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1894.8 Today an eruv exists virtually everywhere there is an Orthodox Jewish community. One survey identifies several hundred worldwide, including 212 in the United States, spread across thirty-one states and over 100 cities and towns.9 Regionally, the distribution of eruvin across the United States reflects Jewish settlement demographics. The Northeast accounts for 104 eruvin, the South, forty-five; the West, twenty-eight; and the Midwest, twenty-one. The top five states account for over half of the country’s eruvin—New York (59), New Jersey (20), Florida (17), California (16), and Pennsylvania (12).

A given city could have any number of eruvin within it, depending on such factors as the size of its Orthodox community, its residential distribution, and its urban topography and built environment. New York City, for instance, has twenty-seven eruvin across its five boroughs, while Los Angeles has a single citywide eruv. Elsewhere, Miami has seven eruvin; Philadelphia, six; Chicago, five; Atlanta, Houston, and Denver, three each; Dallas, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Seattle, two each; and a host of other cities are home to a single eruv, including Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Los Vegas, and Portland. Elsewhere in North America, eruvin exist in thirteen Canadian cities, along with one in Mexico City.

The vast majority of people living in a city with an eruv are unaware of its existence. Most eruvin across the country have been established without rancor and are imperceptible to all those unattached to it by faith. Legal scholar Hillel Levin believes a “norm of accommodation” has generally characterized negotiations between Orthodox Jewish communities and civic authorities in establishing eruvin in America.10 On occasion, however, eruvin have unleashed bitter battles over religious space in cities and towns. Interestingly, eruv conflicts have played out in two distinctly different patterns worthy of note. One involves internecine strife within Orthodox Jewry; the second involves friction between Orthodox Jewry and the wider society.

Internecine disputes arise from the fact that Orthodox Judaism is not monolithic in belief and ritual. Orthodox rabbis often disagree on standards of eruv construction or, even more fundamentally, on whether any deviation from the prohibition of carrying on Sabbath should be permitted. As the website of the Los Angeles eruv states: “Virtually no city eruv can be constructed to fulfill the Halachic requirements of all rabbinic authorities.”11 Eruv conflicts therefore, sometimes pit Orthodox rabbi against Orthodox rabbi, congregation against congregation. Prime weapons in such disputes are competing interpretations of halacha—Jewish law.

In other instances, fierce opposition to an eruv comes from beyond the Orthodox Jewish community—from both non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews. Some non-Orthodox Jews, for instance, have expressed doubt, even derision, regarding the very concept of the eruv. It has variously been described as an “ingenious legal fiction,” a “Sabbath subterfuge,” and a “magic schlepping circle.”12 Non-Jews and non-Orthodox Jews have also objected to eruvin as religious appropriation of public space. In these instances, conflict can arise from differing understandings of public space, religion-state relations, constitutional rights, and even the kind of neighbor one wishes to have, as creation of an eruv conjures for some, a greater influx of Orthodox Jews into an area. In conflicts between Orthodox Jewry and the broader community, recourse to the courts is often the dispute resolution mechanism of choice.

To be sure, then, eruv space can be highly contested space. We begin by examining more closely the first pattern identified—discord within American Orthodox Jewry. Its history stretches from the origin of eruvin in America to the present day.

The Eruv and Divided Orthodoxy

St. Louis, Missouri

The first eruv in the United States was established in 1894, in St. Louis, Missouri.13 The city was then the fourth largest in America, its population swelling through migration from within the country and from abroad. Foremost among the latter were Eastern European Jews, some fifty thousand of whom settled in St. Louis between 1880 and 1920. The circumstances surrounding this first American eruv illuminate challenges and dynamics that would recur.

The St. Louis eruv became a source of intense, bitter division within the St. Louis Orthodox community. Its two foremost rabbis squared off in vehement disagreement over whether the eruv met the requirements of Jewish law. Both rabbis were recent arrivals from Eastern Europe, leading separate congregations. Their disagreement over the eruv reflected competing interpretations of both law and motive. In support of their respective claims, each marshalled sacred texts, precedent, and support from other rabbis.

It was Rabbi Zekharia Yosef Rosenfeld, who established the eruv, and Rabbi Sholom Elchanan Jaffe who condemned it. For several years at the end of the nineteenth century, the rabbis traded published tracts of prosecution and defense. At one level, the issue was strictly legal—did the St. Louis eruv meet religious standards? The range of factors in dispute affords a glimpse into the complex issues involved in determining an eruv’s legitimacy. The rabbis vigorously debated several relevant issues: the accurate count of St. Louis’ population; the width of its streets; whether bridges over the Mississippi River, the nature of its embankments, and the periodic drying of the nearby River des Peres invalidated the use of these rivers as enclosure boundaries; whether newfangled telegraph poles could be used as boundary markers; and—perhaps most intriguingly in a democracy—whether a city’s mayor alone was empowered to convey civic approval of an eruv, or whether approval needed to come from the entire populace.

Underlying the rabbis’ discord on these matters was mutual suspicion of motive. Rabbi Yaffe criticized Rabbi Rosenfeld for pandering to unobservant Jews; Rabbi Rosenfeld contended that Rabbi Yaffe was withholding legitimate relief of Sabbath transgression, stemming from his desire to demonstrate greater religiosity and righteousness. On the ground, the eruv’s fate depended on two things always at play in determining an eruv’s impact. First, as ever, was the “recognition and acceptance” of believers, as Rapoport noted above. In St. Louis, some Jews followed Rabbi Rosenfeld’s favorable claims, while others allied with Rabbi Yaffe’s critique. Having an eruv in a city does not mean all Orthodox Jews will accept it as legitimate. Rabbinic approval is critical to a congregation’s ritual practice. Second, changing demographics also pose a recurring challenge. By the 1920s, the St. Louis Orthodox Jewish community had significantly re-located itself further west in the city. Rabbi Rosenfeld’s eruv no longer enclosed the community and its normal Sabbath walking range. Eruvin typically need “renovation” from time to time, as community residential patterns leapfrog pre-existing enclosure boundaries.

America’s first eruv set in play several dynamics that would subsequently re-appear elsewhere. First was disagreement between different Orthodox religious leaders and congregations. Such disagreement could reflect both differing interpretation of religious law and rabbinic determination to preserve their distinct Orthodox following and base of support. Second, given the integration and social mobility of American Jews, their residential settlement pattern typically migrated from early 20th century central city to mid 20th century postwar suburb to late 20th century edge city. Eruvin, and their battleground therefore, also spread from downtown to inner suburb to city edge.

Brooklyn, New York

A bitter eruv dispute among Orthodox Jews erupted in Brooklyn, New York in 2016. Press headlines shouted news of feuds, vandalism, hate crimes, and police arrests.14 Significantly, the antagonists in this dispute are two differing communities of Orthodox Jews. The Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn has long been the home base of a fervently traditional Orthodox group known as Lubavitch. With origins in 18th century Poland, Lubavitch is a transnational religious Hasidic (tr. pious) movement with reverence for its holy texts, rabbinic leader, and rituals. More recently, a vigorous Modern Orthodox movement has emerged within Judaism, seeking to blend traditional and modern approaches to Orthodoxy. Many Modern Orthodox adherents have recently moved to Crown Heights, drawn by its relatively low housing and rental costs for the New York area.

This led the Modern Orthodox synagogue Kol Israel to establish an eruv in Crown Heights. There had never been one in the area before, as the Lubavitch community does not believe one can be established there in accord with its interpretation of halacha, Jewish law. Modern Orthodox synagogue Kol Israel responded that the eruv met all of its standards for a “kosher” eruv. Fighting words and vandalized eruv wires ensued. Lubavitch leaders questioned whether the eruv supporters could truly be regarded as Orthodox Jews; Modern Orthodox leaders countered that Jews who denied the eruv’s legitimacy should simply disregard it, and refrain from carrying on the Sabbath. Lubavitch adherents could not so lightly dismiss what they regarded as the eruv’s invitation to defile the Sabbath. They mounted posters across Crown Heights decrying the eruv as a sacrilege. Modern Orthodox leaders pleaded with more traditional Jews to respect their right to respect the eruv. In October 2016, two members of the Lubavitch community were arrested for having vandalized the eruv. Leaders of the Modern Orthodox community declared that they did not want anyone jailed over the matter, seeking instead an apology and restitution of repair costs. The impasse continues as of late 2016.

In both the St. Louis and Brooklyn cases, geography creates the conditions for internecine Orthodox strife over eruvin. Shared residential space among congregations with differing rabbinic interpretations of Jewish law is a recipe for discord. Significantly, the recent Brooklyn eruv dispute has been more intense than the late 19th-century St. Louis conflict, where no vandalism or arrests occurred. Several factors may account for this difference. First, the Brooklyn conflict has a more distinctive turf war quality to it, with a Modern Orthodox community moving into what had previously been an overwhelmingly more rigorously observant Orthodox neighborhood. Disruption of their traditional spatial and ritual norms by another Orthodox Jewish group was not welcome.

Second, since disputes within Orthodoxy are predicated on differing interpretations of religious texts and rituals, they do not lend themselves to judicial or third party intervention. Rather, they tend to harden into doctrinal discord between differing, competing branches of Orthodoxy, each resolute in the righteousness of its position. Conversely, when an eruv sparks friction between Orthodox Jews and the broader community, the matter is typically resolved in the courts. As Adam Mintz has observed, in recent years both non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews “in several communities have opposed the eruv (original italics) and brought legal action against the eruv based on a fear that the eruv reflects the influence of the Orthodox Jews on the community and the demands they make on the entire community.”15 Examination of this phenomenon follows.

The Eruv and Its Broader Urban Community

Amidst a general decline in religiosity among American Jews over the past twenty-five years, Orthodoxy in its varying expressions has been in growth mode.16 Among the ultra-Orthodox, several factors have fueled this growth: early age of marriage among adherents, large family size, and more robust, successful outreach attracting non-Orthodox Jews into its ranks. For its part, Modern Orthodoxy’s combined message of tradition and modernism has attracted Jews desirous of greater religious grounding in their life, while still retaining ties to secular values, culture, and lifestyle. As more American cities and neighborhoods have become home to Orthodox Jews, efforts to establish or expand eruvin have become more common. The response from neighbors and civic officials has sometimes been hostile. Indeed, in the late 20th century and early 21st century, the establishment of eruvin has erupted into a flashpoint for anxieties over religion and public space. This despite the eruv’s imperceptible imprint on urban landscapes, and its non-effect on civic sovereignty over eruv space, or anyone’s right to its access or use.

History and geography help to explain the recent eruption of such eruv conflicts. Religious studies professor Richard D. Hecht identifies the past three decades as a period of “active pluralism” on the part of America’s religious minorities. Their growing number of followers, combined with a general political climate more conducive to identity-based claims, have prompted religious minorities to more vigorously stake claims to urban landscapes through a host of constructs including places of worship, shrines, and—for Orthodox Jews—eruvin.17 Eruv conflicts have been especially intense in localities where a rapidly growing Orthodox community requests creation of a first-ever eruv. These tend to arise in suburban or small outer-ring municipalities more defined by secular values than by prior experience with populations of intense religious observance.

Where it flares, conflict over an eruv stems from differing narratives of meaning. At stake are fundamental issues of state, secular, and religious identities and relations. Eruv proponents typically frame their position behind calls for religious freedom and claims that the scarcely visible eruv is inconsequential to the lived experience of non-Orthodox Jews. For their part, eruv critics counter with a host of concerns, including condemnation of the eruv as religious appropriation of public space, a threat to church-state separation and interfaith relations, as well as to neighborhood identity, way of life, and property values. Absolutist positions can come readily to both sides. Eruv proponents believe that their construct has no bearing on non-believers, and that opposition amounts to discrimination; for their part, eruv critics believe that cherished principles of church-state separation are at stake and that they are being forced to live in another’s enclosed religious space. Scarce wonder that the eruv can trigger eruptions.

A review of three recent civic disputes over eruvin reveals the dynamics at play. Each played out over the same timeframe from the last years of the 20th century through the early 21st century. Together they capture the clash of meanings eruvin may trigger. Their resolution has also become precedent for establishing eruv rights in law.

Tenafly, New Jersey

The most significant eruv conflict in America—ultimately requiring a Supreme Court ruling—played out in the tiny Borough of Tenafly, New Jersey, from 1999 to 2006. Tenafly has been identified as America’s highest-profile and longest-running court case over the place of religion in public spaces. This affluent suburb of New York City had a population of some thirteen thousand at the end of the 20th century. About a third of Tenafly’s population was Jewish—mostly secular or moderately observant religiously, and with its own unwelcomed history in the town. Orthodox Jews constituted a very small but newly growing community of several dozen families in Tenafly. Their attempt to establish an eruv triggered a bitter dispute, pitting Orthodox Jews against both non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews in town. In the end, it would become the legal benchmark for eruv creation in America.

In 1999, the town’s Orthodox Jews approached Borough council with a request to establish an eruv, enclosing about a third of the Borough’s 4.4-square-mile area. Mayor Ann Moscovitz, Tenafly’s first Jewish mayor and the recipient of these requests, was initially supportive. She had had her own unwelcome personal experience as a Jew in Tenafly. Moving there in the 1960s, she discovered that her preferred neighborhood was off limits, as homeowners there would not sell property to a Jewish family. Decades of community involvement later, Ann Moscovitz now occupied the mayor’s chair.18 But her concerns over the town’s acceptance of Jews had not fully dissipated.

Discussion of the eruv issue at Borough council meetings degenerated into open animosity and recrimination. According to the local press, two years of public discussion at council were suffused with “anti-Semitic and anti-Orthodox tones.”19 One elected member of council raised the specter of ultra-Orthodox Jews stoning cars driven on town streets during the Sabbath. A widespread concern among town residents (both non-Jewish and non-Orthodox Jewish) was that building an eruv would draw more Orthodox to the Borough and fundamentally transform its character. The distinct dress and observance practices of Orthodox Jews render them a highly visible “other” minority to some in the broader community. Opposition to an eruv may well reflect unease over readily visible Orthodox Jews, rather than discomfort with scarcely visible overhead wires.

After almost two years of discussion without resolution, Tenafly’s Orthodox Jews decided to bypass the Borough council in its bid for an eruv. Instead, they requested and received approval for an eruv from the Bergen county government in December 1999, and secured permission and assistance from the local telephone and cable TV companies to attach plastic wiring to their poles, for its enclosure. The newly created Tenafly Eruv Association (T.E.A.) paid for this work, at a cost of $25,000.

Tenafly’s mayor and council were incensed by what they perceived to be the Orthodox community’s end run on Borough council powers. Mayor Moscovitz criticized the Orthodox Jews for flouting the Borough council’s authority. “A religion has been dictating to a governing municipality,” she contended. “But the pope shall not dictate to the king,” she declared.20 The eruv battle was now being cast as a question of whether elected government or a religious group would determine the use of public space. Additionally, Mayor Moscovitz now expressed reservations about the eruv from a distinctly Jewish perspective. She worried to a New York Times reporter that “an influx of Orthodox Jews would jeopardize the acceptance and progress the Jewish population in the borough had achieved … they have gotten to know us, the old timers in town, and accept us. Now Jews came in and violated the law, did something sneaky. And it’s bad for all Jews.”21 Mayor Moscovitz clearly feared the Tenafly eruv could provoke an anti-Jewish backlash in town. As sociologist Sophie Watson perceptively noted, the mayor’s apprehensions reveal “the tenuous sense of acceptance in the locality that some Jewish people felt, which the eruv was seen to threaten further.”22 Non-Orthodox Jews, who had themselves encountered an unwelcoming reception in Tenafly, now feared their own acceptance could be adversely impacted by the claims of a more religiously observant group of Jews.

The Tenafly Borough council voted unanimously to remove the eruv, citing a 1954 Borough ordinance prohibiting unauthorized posting of signs, advertisements, or “other matter” on public poles or property. The T.E.A. countered by suing the municipality and seeking an injunction to prevent dismantling of the eruv, on grounds of religious freedom and accommodation.

Round one of the legal battle went in the Borough’s favor. In August 2001, a U.S. District Judge refused to grant eruv supporters an injunction on the grounds that public property should not be permanently allocated to a religious purpose. The T.E.A. appealed this ruling to the Court of Appeals. Its October 2002 ruling completely vindicated the Orthodox Jewish community. The Court heard evidence that the Borough council had previously permitted many other kinds of attachments to public property including Christmas wreaths, Christmas lighting, and church signs. The Court also took note of how inconspicuous the eruv was, observing that it was “absolutely impossible” to distinguish any newly added eruv wiring from pre-existing telephone wires. Indeed, the Federal Court of Appeal’s verdict found the actions of Tenafly council to be “suggestive of discriminatory intent,” and perceivable as “hostility to Orthodox Jews.”

In April 2003, Tenafly council appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn this Court of Appeal ruling. The American Civil Liberties Union, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State were two organizations supporting the town, contending that the courts should not promote government sponsorship of religion. But in June 2003, the Supreme Court denied the Borough’s petition to hear the case. America’s Orthodox Jewish leadership reveled in victory, impugning the worst of motives to the Borough. A statement by the Union of Orthodox Congregations charged that the Borough’s opposition to an eruv “appears to have been motivated by a desire to dissuade Orthodox Jews from moving into Tenafly in large numbers.” According to the Orthodox Union, the central message of the Supreme Court decision was that “the construction of an eruv is perfectly constitutional; religious bigotry has been again repudiated, and America is the better for it.”23

Final closure to Tenafly’s eruv dispute only came in 2006, seven years after it began, when Borough council unanimously agreed to reimburse the T.E.A.’s $325,000 legal costs in securing court approval. Tenafly’s newly elected mayor, Peter Rustin, and its Orthodox rabbi committed themselves to mending fences. Rustin thanked all those who had appeared before council over the years to “speak their mind” on the issue, before adding “they probably could have been more polite and more congenial.”24

Yet it was the rancor in Tenafly that enabled clarification of the law related to eruvin. Both sides pressed their case in court. In the balance was interpretation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with its potentially contradictory language. On the one hand, the First Amendment prohibits state establishment of religion; additionally however, it prohibits government measures restricting free exercise of religion. In the Tenafly case, the courts were called upon to adjudicate whether government approval of an eruv violates the constitution’s “establishment” clause, or is permitted under the “free exercise” clause. The Tenafly case provided a partial precedent; its legal legacy is this: if a jurisdiction has previously permitted (as Tenafly did) other religious or secular interests to attach materials to public facilities (utilities, public property, etc.) then it would violate the First Amendment’s “free exercise” of religion guarantee to withhold such approval for an eruv.25 Events further west would show that, as Tenafly goes, so now goes the nation.

Palo Alto, California

Palo Alto’s path to an eruv was a virtual replay of events in Tenafly. Playing out over the same time period, it also featured a protracted battle with an Orthodox Jewish community proclaiming its religious rights against strenuous opposition from other Jews, non-Jews, and public officials condemning the eruv as an unwarranted Orthodox “take-over” of public space and a violation of state-religion separation.

Efforts to establish an eruv in Palo Alto stretched from 1999 to 2007, before coming to fruition for the city’s 700 Orthodox Jews among an overall population of 60,000 residents. The initial request generated a fierce debate described by the city’s prime online civic history site as “vehement and vitriolic.”26 Critics repudiated the idea of designating space for a particular religion, objecting to being forced to live in what they regarded as Orthodox Jewish space. Confronted by this outcry, Palo Alto officials, in the year 2000, refused to authorize the eruv, seemingly ending the matter.

Following the Tenafly court ruling however, the eruv effort was revived. By 2005, the Orthodox community had secured support from a variety of non-municipal government institutions for a sprawling 13-mile eruv boundary encompassing the entire city. The eruv no longer relied on use of city utilities and property, having received wiring access permits from Stanford University, the California Department of Transportation, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and others. Now all that was needed from Palo Alto council was easement approval, akin to those routinely granted restaurants for sidewalk seating.

As in Tenafly, Palo Alto had also previously permitted objects (both religious and secular signage) to be attached to public utilities and property—particularly during the Christmas holiday season. In light of the Tenafly court ruling, Palo Alto’s City Attorney advised council that the city was legally obliged to grant the easement requested. Not to do so, council was informed, would risk court sanctions for violating the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion clause. Palo Alto council proceeded with issuing the eruv easement in a process so low- key as to border on secrecy. City residents learned of the eruv approval after the fact, through the press.27 It would seem that creating an eruv in Palo Alto was not yet an issue to be aired in public in 2007. If politicians regarded the eruv as too contentious for the court of public opinion, they could not evade the verdict from the court of law.

Elsewhere in North America, court intervention was also required to settle another bitter eruv dispute. In Canada, too, the courts have come to the defense of the eruv with rulings there, now regarded as landmark judgments in support of religious spatial rights. Reviewing this case is a reminder that conflicts over the eruv are not a distinctly American phenomenon. They have arisen in a variety of countries, as exemplars of differing narratives in the encounter of religious and secular sensibilities.

Outremont, Quebec

The Outremont area of Montreal, home to two strikingly different demographic groups, was a unique setting for eruv strife. The area’s majority population reflected Quebec society’s staunchly secular, francophone, nationalist, modernist trajectory launched by the Province’s “Quiet Revolution” of the 1960s. That transformation displaced Catholicism and the Church as anchors of Quebec identity with state-ism, secularism, and nationalism. A more resolutely secular worldview could scarcely be found elsewhere in North America. Interestingly, Outremont was also the center of Montreal’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. Throughout the 20th century, Hasidic followers were drawn to Outremont, attracted by its oversized housing stock and central location. By the end of the 20th century, seven different Hasidic groups were based in Outremont, accounting for more than six thousand of the area’s total population of thirty thousand.28

New world and old world communities intersected uneasily as Outremont’s unlikely neighbors. One regarded itself as recently liberated from its own religious constraints, while the other valued nothing more than its religious traditions. Outremont’s French-speaking Quebec nationalists hope to establish a modern independent country for themselves; Yiddish-speaking Hasidic Jews, like their brethren in Brooklyn and elsewhere, yearn for the return of the Messiah.

Outremont’s eruv saga also began in the late 1990s, when members of the Hasidic community approached municipal authorities for approval to erect an eruv. (At the time, Outremont was an independent municipality, subsequently subsumed in an amalgamation of Montreal area municipalities.) They sought permission to attach eruv wiring to municipal utility poles, as already existed in other Montreal area municipalities. When the matter was discussed at city council in 2000, discussion turned acrimonious with some 50 citizens opposing the eruv, on the grounds that it would force them to live in another religion’s appropriated space. In October 2000, Outremont council denied the request for an eruv, and its Jewish mayor Jerome Unterberg forcefully articulated the city’s position. Mayor Unterberg contended that Quebec’s municipal act prohibited municipalities from authorizing the religious use of public space. Consequently, he argued, the city had a legal duty to remain resolutely secular and could not permit religious appropriation of public property.

Mayor Unterberg further declared that any eruv wires attached to municipal property would be cut down by city employees. This was indeed done. Outremont’s Orthodox Jews countered with a temporary court injunction preventing further municipal dismantling of the eruv. The city of Outremont then went to court, seeking a legal judgment against the eruv. As in the United States, Canada’s constitutional provisions regarding religion are ambiguous rather than definitive. While the country’s constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms declares freedom of religion to be a “fundamental freedom,” it is not an absolutist right, but rather is subject, in the Charter’s words, to “such reasonable limits as may be justified in a free and democratic society.” It falls to the courts to determine when restrictions on religious freedoms are justified.

Legal arguments in the Outremont eruv case rehearsed the tropes expressed in American cases. In court, the city and its supporters argued that Outremont had to defend secularism and the equality of all citizens from any religious hegemony. The city’s lawyer claimed it would be illegal for a municipality to create a religious district, and that an eruv would have “the effect of ostracizing” non-Jews. City councilor Celine Forget further contended that the eruv was not only an eye sore, but “constituted physically a private space of a religious character in the public domain.” Intervening also in the city’s support was the Mouvement Laique du Quebec (the Secular Movement of Quebec). In their submission, the Mouvement argued that the eruv had the effect of “transforming the street into a place of worship or an extension of the private domain that exclusively benefits one group.” Another witness in support of the city inadvertently illustrated the sometimes-spurious grounds on which opposition to the eruv was expressed. The resident complained that the eruv wires would prevent her from flying a kite in front of her apartment building. When cross-examined however, she declined to say whether she had ever tried to fly a kite in front of her residence or elsewhere.29

Outremont’s Orthodox Jews were represented in court by prominent Montreal civil rights lawyer Julius Grey. (Unlike the Tenafly case, here civil libertarians supported the eruv as an expression of religious freedom.) Grey argued that the city’s policies were both discriminatory and a constitutional violation. He noted that Christian religious symbols such as Christmas lights and decorations had regularly been mounted on public property in Outremont. He further argued that an eruv was protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with its provision for freedom of religion. Grey concluded that the virtually imperceptible eruv constituted no imposition or hardship on other people.

The verdict, handed down in June 2001 by Quebec Superior Court Judge Alan Hilton, has been hailed as a benchmark for religious freedom cases in Canada. In a forceful, unambiguous ruling, Hilton declared the city had a constitutional duty to accommodate religious practices that did not impose hardship on its residents. Noting that the eruv required no public funding, and that its barely visible wiring could not be deemed to offend or impose on others, he found no countervailing grounds to limit the Charter of Rights and Freedom’s promotion of religious freedom in this instance, and ordered Outremont to cease and desist from cutting down eruv wires. Additionally, Hilton set guidelines for legally building an eruv: he asserted the right to attach wires to public property, the need to secure the approval of owners before wires could be affixed to private property, and the right of the city to regulate eruv construction, so long as this intervention facilitates the exercise of religious freedom. In Canada, too, the eruv emerged triumphant from its day in court.


Religion has increasingly become the terrain on which the spatial claims to inclusion, belonging and community are being contested. What garments may be worn in public space, where places of worship may be built, where religious rituals may be enacted—these are some issues currently confronting religion in the public realm.30 A rich literature now explores the challenge of creating spatial equity in demographically diverse urban places. Political philosopher Iris Marion Young writes of cities as “a being together of strangers,” and she advocates “an ideal of city life as a vision of social relations affirming group difference.” Urban theorist Leonie Sandercock reminds us that a recurring urban drama today is: “Who belongs where and with what citizenship rights, in the emerging global cities.” Meanwhile, urban sociologist David Thorns contends there is often more than meets the eye in interpreting urban space, since creating and promoting distinctive urban place “blurs the line between illusion and reality,” and furthermore, “often involves conflict and struggle over the appropriation of the images [of place].”31

Discordant interpretations of urban space—what is illusory and what is real—can underlie conflict and struggle over the Orthodox Jewish construct of the eruv. In its ethereal, metaphysical way, the eruv raises basic existential questions about identities, values, worldviews, shared space, the neighbors we wish to have and be, and the life worth living.32

From its originating impulse, the eruv illustrates that sometimes religious law can impede religious faith and practice. The Jewish prohibition of work on the Sabbath, as rendered into strict ritual observance through restrictions on carrying, has the unintended consequence of preventing some Orthodox Jews (primarily women, children, the elderly and disabled) from participating in the core Jewish activities of Sabbath: synagogue attendance and communal participation. So constrained by religious observance law—leaving many Jews confined to their home on Sabbath—the ancient rabbis devised the eruv as a solution to this carrying conundrum.

Since carrying was only permitted in private space, public space would be re-defined and re-imagined as private for Sabbath observance purposes. This involves extending onto public space the enclosure characteristics of the private home. This is what the eruv achieves with boundaries created by existing natural and human-made elements of the landscape, along with barely visible string attached to poles. The eruv therefore is one more reminder of the power of creative symbolism in faith and religion. Believers know that six days of the week eruv territory is public space, undifferentiated from any other urban public space. On the seventh day however, they code-switch and interpret the same territory through the lens of religious law and imagination. Many other urban residents however, do not have such a code-switching lens. The eruv reminds us that space can be understood very differently from differing epistemologies and ways of knowing.

Where conflicts over eruvin have flared, opposition has come from both within and beyond Orthodox Jewry. The former dynamic reflects the capacity for doctrinal dissent among true believers. In the absence of clear religious law identifying the requirements of a legitimate eruv, it is hardly surprising that Orthodox rabbis and communities may disagree on whether a specific eruv is legitimate. And since what is at stake with the eruv is one of Judaism’s most sacred obligations—observance of the Sabbath—differences among Orthodox Jews over eruvin can be heated, as demonstrated.

For those outside Orthodox Jewry—both other Jews and non-Jews—the eruv can be bewildering and threatening. Some critics cannot comprehend the leap of religious faith and imagination required to believe that scarcely visible wiring strung high over-head can transform otherwise transgressive space into permissive space. Some reject what they regard as the principle of religious appropriation of public space, believing the eruv now encloses them in a territory identified with a religion that is not their own. Still others are averse to the prospect of greater numbers of a fervent, identifiable religious minority moving into their midst as a result of an eruv.

The scope for misunderstanding is magnified when Orthodox proponents contend the eruv is of no consequence to non-Orthodox persons. One baffled rabbi, facing broad community opposition wondered: “we’re putting together a very simple and innocent and almost invisible facility, … if it means something to us and not to you why should you care?”33 The eruv highlights the gap between religious and secular sensibilities, each with its own spatial logic. Orthodox proponents may feel an eruv holds meaning only for them. But secularists impute their own meaning to such re-defined space, regarding it as religious appropriation and exclusivity in the public realm. The eruv is also a reminder that, in matters of faith, the invisible and ineffable can conjure varying interpretation.

An eruv raises questions of spatial identity, belonging, and pluralism. In liberal democratic states such disputes are resolved by law, in courts. As the cases reviewed here illustrate, American courts have ruled that the eruv cannot be subjected to greater public space prohibition than other religious or secular claims. In its own creative, confounding, and contested fashion the eruv is contributing to social inclusion, equitable citizenship, and shared space. It is also demonstrating that weighty principles of religious-secular relations may come to rest on a razor-thin eruv wire.

Review of the Literature

There is a broad body of writing related to the eruv, ranging from scripture and religious study, to law, sociology, and urban planning. The Jewish Bible conveys recurring imperative calls to Sabbath observance—the Ten Commandments; Genesis 2:1–3; Exodus 20:8–11; Deuteronomy 5:12–15. A specific tractate (Eruvin) of the Talmud provides rabbinic guidance on criteria for establishing an appropriate eruv. A modern guide to religious requirements of eruv construction and maintenance is Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer, The Contemporary Eruv: Eruvin in Modern Metropolitan Areas.34

Considerable information related to the location and characteristics of eruvin may be found online. This includes the site identifying all eruvin worldwide as well the eruv websites of specific cities, such as the Greater Boston Eruv Corporation, or the Los Angeles Community Eruv.

The most comprehensive history of eruvin in America is the unpublished doctoral dissertation of Adam Mintz (2011), Halakhah in America: The History of City Eruvin, 18941962. A fine contemporary study of an urban Orthodox Jewish community in America is Etan Diamond, And I Will Dwell in Their Midst: Orthodox Jews in Suburbia.35

Since the courts have been central to adjudicating eruv conflicts in America, there is an impressive body of scholarship on the subject to be found in legal studies journals. Constitutional and case law regarding eruvin are carefully analyzed in articles such as Jason Metzger (1989), “The Eruv: Can Government Constitutionality Permit Jews to Build a Fictional Wall Without Breaking the Wall Between Church and State?”; Shira Schlaff (2003), “Using Eruv to Untangle the Boundaries of the Supreme Court’s Religion-Clause Jurisprudence”; Alexandra Lang Susman (2009), “Strings Attached: An Analysis of the Eruv under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act”; and Hillel Levin (2015), “Rethinking Religious Minorities’ Political Power.”36

The unprecedented demographic diversity of populations living in cities of the western world has inspired thoughtful writing about identity claims on urban space. This literature perceptively explores the intersections of identity, belonging, and public space. Particularly insightful works are: Leonie Sandercock (1998), Towards Cosmopolis: Planning for Multicultural Cities; Ruth Fincher and Jane M. Jacobs (1998), Cities of Difference; Sherene Razack (2002), Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society; Justin Beaumont and Christopher Baker (2011), Postsecular Cities: Space, Theory and Practice.37

Scholars from a variety of disciplines have written on the eruv as expression of religious minority social inclusion claims on urban landscapes. This literature also gravitates toward scholarly journals. Bret Carroll (2012) frames the topic well in “Worlds in Space: American Religious Pluralism in Geographic Perspective.” Insightful articles on eruvin include: Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert (2005), “The Political Symbolism of the Eruv”; Myer Siemiatycki (2005), “Contesting Sacred Urban Space: The Case of the Eruv”; Sophie Watson (2005), “Symbolic Spaces of Difference: Contesting the Eruv in Barnet, London, and Tenafly, New Jersey”; Barry Smith (2007), “On Place and Space: The Ontology of the Eruv”; Michele Rapoport (2011), “Creating Place, Creating Community: The Intangible Boundaries of the Jewish Eruv.”38

Further Reading

Beaumont, Justin, and Christopher Baker. Postsecular Cities: Space, Theory and Practice. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2011.Find this resource:

    Bechhofer, Yosef Gavriel. The Contemporary Eruv: Eruvin in Modern Metropolitan Areas. Nanuet, NY: Feldheim, 2002.Find this resource:

      Carroll, Bret. “Worlds in Space: American Religious Pluralism in Geographic Perspective.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80.2 (2012): 304–364.Find this resource:

        Diamond, Etan. And I Will Dwell in their Midst: Orthodox Jews in Suburbia. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.Find this resource:

          Fincher, Ruth, and Jane M. Jacobs. Cities of Difference. New York: Guilford, 1998.Find this resource:

            Fonrobert, Charlotte Elisheva. “The Political Symbolism of the Eruv.” Jewish Social Studies 11.3 (2005): 9–35.Find this resource:

              Levin, Hillel. “Rethinking Religious Minorities’ Political Power.” UC Law Review 48 (2015): 1617.Find this resource:

                Metzger, Joshua. “The Eruv: Can Government Constitutionality Permit Jews to Build a Fictional Wall without Breaking the Wall between Church and State?National Jewish Law Review 67 (1989): 68.Find this resource:

                  Mintz, Adam. “Halakhah in America: The History of City Eruvin, 1894–1962.” PhD diss., New York University, 2011.Find this resource:

                    Rapoport, Michele. Creating Place, Creating Community: The Intangible Boundaries of the Jewish “Eruv.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29.5 (2011): 891–904.Find this resource:

                      Razack, Sherene, ed. Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002.Find this resource:

                        Sandercock, Leonie. Towards Cosmopolis. Chichester, U.K.: John Wiley, 1998.Find this resource:

                          Schlaff, Shira. “Using Eruv to Untangle The Boundaries of the Supreme Court’s Religion-Clause Jurisprudence.” Journal of Constitutional Law (2003).Find this resource:

                            Siemiatycki, Myer. “Contesting Sacred Urban Space: The Case of the Eruv.” Journal of International Migration and Integration 6.2 (2005): 255–270.Find this resource:

                              Smith, Barry. “On Place and Space: The Ontology of the Eruv.” In Cultures: Conflict—Analysis—Dialogue. Edited by Christian Kanzian and Edmund Runggaldier, 403–416. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag, 2007.Find this resource:

                                Susman, Alexandra Lang. “Strings Attached: An Analysis of the Eruv under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.” University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender, and Class 9.1 (2009)Find this resource:

                                  Watson, Sophie. “Symbolic Spaces of Difference: Contesting the Eruv in Barnet, London, and Tenafly, New Jersey.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23 (2005): 597–613.Find this resource:


                                    (1.) Sophie Watson, “Symbolic Spaces of Difference: Contesting the Eruv in Barnet, London, and Tenafly, New Jersey,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23 (2005): 611.

                                    (2.) Alexandra Lang Susman, “Strings Attached: An Analysis of the Eruv under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.” University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class 9.1 (2009): 93–134.

                                    (3.) Wayne Dosick, Living Judaism(San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1995): 61.

                                    (4.) Pew Research Center, “A Portrait of American Orthodox Jews,” August 26, 2016.

                                    (5.) Michele Rapoport, “Creating Place, Creating Community: The Intangible Boundaries of the Jewish Eruv,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29.5 (2011): 891–904.

                                    (6.) Official Greater Boston Eruv Web Site, The Boston Eruv: Questions & Answers, 2003; and Jennifer Deal, “There’s a hidden wire stretched across American cities—and few people know what it’s for,” Business Insider, October 16, 2015.

                                    (7.) Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, “The Political Symbolism of the Eruv,” Jewish Social Studies 11 (2005): 9–35.

                                    (8.) Adam Mintz, “Halakhah in America: The History of City Eruvin, 1894–1962,” PhD diss., New York University, 2011.

                                    (9.) website, Eruv Directory.

                                    (10.) Hillel Levin, “Rethinking Religious Minorities’ Political Power,” UC Law Review 48 (2015): 1617–1686.

                                    (12.) Abraham Millgram, Sabbath: The Day of Delight (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1965), 32; Alan Dundes. The Shabbat Elevator and Other Sabbath Subterfuges. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), 32; and Calvin Trillin, “Drawing the Line,” New Yorker 12 (1994): 50.

                                    (13.) For a fuller discussion of America’s first eruv see Mintz, “Halakhah in America.”

                                    (14.) Sam Kestenbaum, “Brooklyn Eruv Feud Spreads to Park Slope: Second Ritual Boundary Vandalized,” Forward, July 28, 2016; Jewish Times of Israel, Brooklyn “Eruv” Vandalism Investigated as Hate Crime, July 28, 2018; and Sam Kestenbaum, “2 Hasidic Jews Charged with Vandalizing Controversial Eruv,” Forward, October 28, 2016.

                                    (15.) Mintz, “Halakhah in America,” 425.

                                    (16.) Pew Research Center, A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” 2013; and Pew Research Center, “A Portrait of American Orthodox Jews,” 2015.

                                    (17.) Bret Carroll, “Worlds in Space: American Religious Pluralism in Geographic Perspective,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 80.2 (2012).

                                    (18.) Mathew Purdy, “Our Towns; A Wire-Thin Line Sharply Divides a Suburb’s Jews,” New York Times, March 25, 2011.

                                    (19.) Steve Lipman, “Eruv Fight Going the Distance,” The Jewish Week, June 2 2003.

                                    (20.) Tyler Maroney, “No Boundaries,” Legal Affairs (September/October 2003).

                                    (21.) Purdy, “Our Towns.”

                                    (22.) Watson, “Symbolic Spaces of Difference,” 603.

                                    (24.) Lois Goldrich and Jacob Berkman, “Eruv to Stand,” New Jersey Jewish Standard, January 26, 2006.

                                    (25.) Susman, “Strings Attached.”

                                    (27.) Josh Richman, “New Eruv Reopens Old Church-State Debates in Palo Alto,” Forward, July 20, 2007.

                                    (28.) Charles Shahar, Morton Weinfeld, and Randal Schnoor. Survey of the Hassidic & Ultra-Orthodox Communities in Outremont & Surrounding Areas (Outremont, Quebec: Coalition of Outremont Hassidic Organizations, 1997).

                                    (29.) Janice Arnold, “Outremont Refuses to Allow Eruv Installation,” Canadian Jewish News, October 12, 2000; Janice Arnold, “Outremont Eruv Dispute Goes to Court,” Canadian Jewish News, June 14 2001; and Brad Miller, “Religious Intolerance at City Hall,” Lex View 47.0, Cardus Centre for Cultural Renewal, September 6, 2001.

                                    (30.) See Ruth Fincher and Jane M. Jacobs. Cities of Difference (New York: Guilford, 1998); Engin Isin and Myer Siemiatycki, “Making Space for Mosques: Struggles for Urban Citizenship in Diasporic Toronto,” in Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society, ed. Sherene Razack (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002); Annick Germaine and Julie Elizabeth Gagnon, “Minority Places of Worship and Zoning Dilemmas in Montreal,” Planning Theory & Practice 4.3 (2003); Meyer Siemiatycki, “Contesting Sacred Urban Space: The Case of the Eruv,” Journal of International Migration and Integration 6.2 (2005): 255–270; and Justin Beaumont and Christopher Baker, “Postsecular Cities: Space, Theory and Practice” (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2011).

                                    (31.) Iris Marion Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990) 227; Leonie Sandercock, Towards Cosmopolis: Planning for Multicultural Cities (Chichester, U.K.: John Wiley, 1998), 3; and David C. Thorns, The Transformation of Cities (Gordonsville, VA: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 145, 146.

                                    (32.) Janice Arnold, “Quebec Court Upholds Right to Erect Eruvim [sic].” Canadian Jewish News, June 28, 2001; and Miller, “Religious Intolerance at City Hall.”

                                    (33.) Watson, “Symbolic Spaces of Difference,” 611.

                                    (34.) Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer, The Contemporary Eruv: Eruvin in Modern Metropolitan Areas (Jerusalem: Feldheim, 2002).

                                    (35.) Adam Mintz, Halakhah in America; Etan Diamond, And I Will Dwell in Their Midst: Orthodox Jews in Suburbia (Chapel Hill: NC, 2000).

                                    (36.) Jason Metzger, “The Eruv: Can Government Constitutionality Permit Jews to Build a Fictional Wall without Breaking the Wall between Church and State?National Jewish Law Review 4 (1989): 68; Shira Schlaff, “Using Eruv to Untangle the Boundaries of the Supreme Court’s Religion-Clause Jurisprudence,” University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 5 (2002): 831; Alexandra Lang Susman, “Strings Attached”; Hillel Levin, “Rethinking Religious Minorities’ Political Power.”

                                    (37.) Leonie Sandercock, Towards Cosmopolis; Ruth Fincher and Jane M. Jacobs, Cities of Difference; Sherene Razack, Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002); Justin Beaumont and Christopher Baker, Postsecular Cities.

                                    (38.) Bret Carroll, “Worlds in Space”; Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, “The Political Symbolism of the Eruv”; Myer Siemiatycki, “Contesting Sacred Urban Space”; Watson, “Symbolic Spaces of Difference”; Barry Smith (2007), “On Place and Space: The Ontology of the Eruv,” in Cultures: Conflict, Analysis, Dialogue, ed. Christian Kanzian (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007); Michele Rapoport, “Creating Place, Creating Community.”