Thursday, January 08, 2015

Judges: Orthodox Jewish Zone Can Stay In Westhampton Beach 

A panel of federal judges has ruled that an Orthodox Jewish religious zone erected in a Hamptons beach community can stay.

The zone, called an eruv, is marked with utility poles bearing religious symbols.

It acts as an extension of the homes of Orthodox Jews, allowing them to push strollers, carry keys and perform other tasks not otherwise permitted on the Sabbath or High Holy Days.

"It's difficult to see, and it's been up in Westhampton since last summer. The sky has not fallen," Hank Sheinkopf, who represents the East End Eruv Association, told WCBS 880's Alex Silverman.

The judges found the zone does not violate constitutional issues regarding separation of church and state.

A group called Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach claimed in a 2012 lawsuit that the eruv violated the Constitution.

"Let's suppose, instead of an eruv, a local Christian group wanted to put very small crosses on these same poles," Jonathan Sinnreich, the group's attorney, said. "I think any schoolchild would know you can't do that in the United States."

U.S. Court of Appeals judges said Tuesday the eruv is not "endorsing religion." The judges ruled the symbols could be placed on utility poles.

Sheinkopf applauded the ruling.

"The appeals court decision upholds what is great about America: that religious freedom matters," he said.
Other lawsuits on the dispute are pending.

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