Monday, June 17, 2013

405 Construction Halts Use of Kosher Eruv in Westwood 

Ongoing construction on the San Diego (405) Freeway in Westwood is not only disrupting traffic, it is causing some observant conservative Jews some aggravation this summer.

The $1 billion-plus widening project is entering a new phase at the 405's Wilshire Boulevard interchange, where new flyover ramps will eventually replace the 60-year-old cloverleaf ramps.

The construction means that a small and unobtrusive wire that runs along light poles on Sepulveda and Wilshire boulevards must be taken down for several weeks, thus breaking the boundaries of a kosher eruv in Westwood, eruv sponsors said.

A eruv is a ritual enclosure as a means to allow Jewish residents or visitors to carry objects outside their home.

The Los Angeles Jewish Journal reports that the broken eruv means conservative Jews cannot carry things, even baby stroller or prayer shawls, outside their homes during Shabbat. Ancient Jewish law prohibits the carrying of any items except inside a private home or courtyard during Friday evenings and Saturdays.

An eruv extends the private space through the use of a wire, forming an enclosure that transforms a public space into a private domain for religious purposes.

Hoard Witkin, head organizer of the Los Angeles Community Eruv, writes on the organization's website that 200 feet of eruv wire have to be removed, making the eruv not kosher.

"We hope to have a workaround for next week, but the next three weeks will be problematic as the contractor rushes to finish new, and demolish old bridges at Wilshire," Witkin wrote.

Three of the eight connecting ramps at the Wilshire interchange have been rebuilt, but work is about to begin in earnest on the remaining five. Some transition routes will be closed this summer as old ramps are demolished to make way for new ones.

When finished, the flyover cloverleaf will eliminate dangerous weaving and merging maneuvers at the interchange, one of the busiest in the state.

It costs the eruv group group more than $100,000 per year to maintain the eruv wires, even without having them pulled down for construction work, Witkin wrote.

"The eruv always runs short of funds in weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah," Witkin wrote. "We will need an additional $10,000 to get through summer and keep the eruv up."

The group can be contacted at laeruv.com, the Jewish Journal reported.


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