Thursday, September 11, 2008

Eruv Battle in Hamptons

(Hat tip: Patti)

This story is interesting, but not just because of the battle:

Tensions over the proposed creation of a symbolic Orthodox Jewish boundary in a tony Long Island hamlet boiled over yesterday at a raucous meeting in Westhampton Beach.

Organized by a group called Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv, the rowdy morning gathering of more than 250 people pitted Reform Jews against Orthodox Jews.

At issue was the proposed creation of an "eruv," a boundary consisting of marked telephone poles that form a figurative extension of a home. The eruv would allow Orthodox Jews to engage in activities normally prohibited on the Sabbath, such as pushing strollers and carrying keys.

Members of the Hampton Synagogue, led by high-profile Rabbi Marc Schneier, had hoped to marshal support for the eruv during the summer season. But recent town meetings have degenerated into shouting matches.

The interesting - and troubling - part of the article is the second half:

"We don't want to change the community," said Jack Kringstein, co-chairman of the Jewish group opposed to the eruv. "We feel like we will be converting Westhampton to [Orthodox Jews'] tastes."

Hampton Synagogue member Alan Shecter, one of only a handful of eruv supporters at yesterday's meeting, was shouted down.

Schneier said that the opposition is inspired by baseless fears of an Orthodox influx.

"I'm very saddened and disappointed by what's taken place," he said.

I don't understand. Replace Orthodox Jews with any other group and we'd hear cries of racism, would we not? The comments are similar disturbing, claiming falsely that
"However what will follow will probably duplicate what has happened in the 5 Towns and in New City. Stores will be forced to close Friday eve and on Saturday for fear of losing business and driving likewise prohibited."
The openly anti-Orthodox fear and dislike is mind-boggling. An eruv isn't "converting to Orthodox Jews' tastes" and fears of an Orthodox influx? Really? Is that such a horrible thing even if it were true, to the point that anything that might encourage such a thing must be stopped? Imagine blocking a Baptist church because of fears of an influx of black people - wouldn't such an attempt be decried rightly as racism? How is this different?