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Friday, August 08, 2014

Orthodox Jews get long-sought eruv in Westhampton Beach 

An Orthodox Jewish group has created an eruv in Westhampton Beach after six years of fighting opposition from village officials and neighbors, an attorney for the group said Friday.

The eruv is a boundary that allows Orthodox Jews to perform tasks, such as pushing and carrying objects, not usually allowed outside the home on the Sabbath and High Holy Days. It is invisible except for lengths of pipe attached intermittently to utility poles along its borders.

The East End Eruv Association, a nonprofit group, put up the markers -- called lechis -- in Westhampton Beach late last week, following a favorable court ruling in June, said Robert Sugarman, an attorney for the group.

"One thing that I do want to emphasize is that the existence of an eruv will not in any way alter the ability of non-Jews and non-Orthodox Jews to do whatever they did in whatever way they did it before the eruv was up," Sugarman said. "It has absolutely no effect on non-Jews and non-observant Jews."

The group has sought to establish an eruv in the villages of Westhampton Beach and Quogue, and an unincorporated part of Southampton Town called Quiogue since 2008. It is still locked in litigation with all three municipalities.

In June, a federal judge ruled that Westhampton Beach had no laws on its books that could block the creation of an eruv, clearing the way for Verizon and the Long Island Power Authority to issue licenses allowing the eruv association to attach the lengths of piping to utility poles.

Verizon issued a license on July 28 allowing the group to attach lechis to 18 of its poles in Westhampton Beach, a company spokesman said. PSEG Long Island, which manages LIPA's electric grid, issued a license on July 8 for 27 of its poles, a PSEG spokesman said.

The eruv primarily serves congregants of the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach. Rabbi Marc Schneier of the synagogue did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Westhampton Beach Village Trustee Patricia DiBenedetto said Friday that she has not personally seen any lechis, but declined to comment further due to the continuing litigation.

An attorney for the village was not immediately available for comment Friday.

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/towns/orthodox-jews-get-long-sought-eruv-in-westhampton-beach-1.9001825

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