OU’s Rabbinical Couple Aids in Establishing an Eruv To Make Sabbath Observance Easier at Yale

15 Feb 2007


After a seven-year effort, in which a young couple, Rabbi Jason and Meira Rappoport played a leading role, an eruv is now available to make Sabbath observance easier for Orthodox Jews at Yale. Rabbi and Mrs. Rappoport are the Torah Educators of the Orthodox Union’s Heshe and Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) program, which is found at Yale and 12 other prestigious campuses nationwide.

The eruv went into operation earlier this month. It enables Sabbath observers to transport items such as keys, prayer books, strollers, and food. It is also attached to the Westville eruv, making it possible for various Jewish communities in New Haven to come closer.

Students and community members are encouraged to check that the eruv is up each week before using it by calling the eruv hotline, 203-387-3897 and visiting www.yale.edu/hillel/eruv.

Rabbi and Mrs. Rappoport’s major goals are to enhance the religious atmosphere on campus, facilitate the observance of halacha and encourage Torah learning on campus. Their active involvement with the eruv since they came to Yale in 2002, has been an important part of these goals.

The seven-year span proved to be challenging. “We had to negotiate with the utility company, the mayor’s office and related departments as well as obtain approval from the Board of Aldermen,” Rabbi Rappoport said.

Many talented individuals were involved in the process. In particular, an informal committee — Joseph Bartel, Amichai Erdfarb, Rachel Novick and Sharon Reinhart — did most of the work along with the Rappoports leading to the completion of the project over the past year.

Rabbi Rappoport remarked, “Many people, close to 30 of them, put in countless hours. Unfortunately, one of these remarkable individuals, Beth Samuels, passed away after an unsuccessful battle with breast cancer just a few short weeks ago. She was a guiding light and a driving force behind the project.”

Now Yale is much more than an academic institution. “Families with small children are overjoyed that they’re able to participate fully in the community, because of the ability to push a stroller, and many undergrads are happy to see them,” Rabbi Rappoport said.

To allow for the continuous use of the eruv and its maintenance, Rabbi Rappoport and the eruv committee intend to raise $250,000 for an endowment. Opportunities exist for sponsoring a week, month or a year of eruv maintenance. Names of the sponsors will go on the website www.jli.co.il/yale.section.asp?id=87.

For more information on the Yale eruv and for ways to help support it, contact Rabbi Rappoport at 203-432-1138 or jason.rappoport@yale.edu . JLIC is a program of the OU in coordination with Hillel: The Foundation of Jewish Campus Life and the Torah Mitzion organization.