Mayor Fred Profeta, right, gets ready to nail in the last lehi for the Maplewood eruv, with Rabbi Sholom Bogomilsky of Congregation Beth Ephraim-Maplewood Jewish Center. Photos by Johanna Ginsberg
December 27, 2007
Two years and $20,000 after gaining approval, Maplewood’s two Orthodox synagogues celebrated the completion of an eruv, or Shabbat boundary.
On Dec. 14, members of Congregation Beth Ephraim-Maplewood Jewish Center and Congregation Ahavath Zion gathered in front of Beth Ephraim on the corner of Parker and Prospect avenues.
They symbolically completed the eruv by putting up the last plastic strip, or lehi, on a telephone pole, and offering “payment” in the form of a silver dollar to Maplewood Mayor Fred Profeta for use of the township property.
Also present at the festivities were Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Dist. 27) and West Orange Mayor and Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Dist. 27).
The eruv now forms a boundary of existing cable hung on utility and telephone poles that surrounds 90 percent of Maplewood, running from above Wyoming Avenue on one end to the Clinton school district on the other, and from close to the South Orange border to the Millburn town line.
Under Jewish law, the eruv defines the area within which Jews may carry or push objects out of doors on the Sabbath, from books and prayer shawls to baby carriages.
Maplewood Mayor Fred Profeta receives kinyan kesef, a symbolic payment of a silver dollar for use of the town’s poles for the eruv.
Although the construction of an eruv has proved controversial in some communities, the Maplewood Township Committee approved the synagogues’ proposal with little objection. “Maplewood really stands out for being so inclusive of all groups that live in this area,” said Rabbi Yeheskel Lebovic of Ahavath Zion.
Profeta, who also affixed the final symbolic lehi, told NJJN, “We pride ourselves on being an inclusive community. This is the kind of thing that slides under the radar. When you don’t provide this kind of fence, in effect you’re not allowing some people to live here.”
The cost of the eruv includes payment to a rabbi to supervise the project and the fee for a cherry-picker truck to install the lehis. While the synagogues raised close to $20,000 through private fund-raising, they said they are about $5,000 short of their goal. The final sum would pay for maintenance of the eruv.
Dovid Tzubeli, a rabbi from Lakewood, has supervised the project since his mentor, eruv expert Rabbi Shimon Eider, passed away in September. Technical work on the eruv was completed two weeks ago.
Ahavath Zion, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, has 15 member families. Beth Ephraim, nearly moribund just seven years ago, when it had dwindled to seven to 10 member families, now has 40 member families. It includes a range of activities from a preschool to holiday workshops, speakers, and Shabbat services.
“We’re a mixed group. Maybe 50 percent will need it. But we’re looking forward to an increase in membership in our congregation,” he said. “People who know there’s an Orthodox shul and an eruv in Maplewood will come. Messages regarding the status of the eruv will be posted online.