Judges Rule: Westhampton Eruv Stays

08 Jan 2015

The Thin Jew Line Remains

eruvIt seems that the newly installed Westhampton eruv is here to stay according to a three member federal court of appeals that ruled against an appeal brought by opponents to the eruv on January 6.

The arduous and contentious legal battle for an eruv in the Hamptons has been ongoing for the last six years. Opponents argued that placing the eruv on public property was a breach of the separation of church and state while proponents pointed to legal precedent allowing the eruv in other towns in America. A judge ruled in favor of the eruv last year and one was built in August.

Mainly though, the fight against the nearly invisible line was an unabashed attempt to keep Orthodox Jews from moving to the Hamptons, as one of the plaintiffs of the suit and member of the Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv, Estelle Lubliner, told the New York Times.

“[The eruv] will make more Orthodox people come in, and it’s not right to the history of these towns,” she said in February.

The appeals court ruled in favor of the defendants, declaring that the Establishment Clause was not in effect by virtue of the unremarkable nature of the eruv despite its placement on public utility poles.

“No reasonable observer who notices the strips on LIPA utility poles would draw the conclusion that a state actor is thereby endorsing religion, even assuming that a reasonable observer was aware that a state actor (LIPA) was the entity that contracted with a private party to lease the space,” they wrote.

“It’s another victory for religious liberty and religious freedom,” said Hank Scheinkopf, spokesperson for the East End Eruv Association, one of the defendants of the suit. “It proves the beauty of this country that people can worship in all kinds of ways.”

Opponents of the eruv were memorably lampooned on the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” in 2011. During the comedic segment entitled “The Thin Jew Line,” comedian Wyatt Cenac proposed a personal eruv hat that would allow Jews to eat bacon and milk together.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.