Eruv approved after eight years Around Town, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Jun 19, 2007 at 2:28 pm
A 13-mile-long eruv, a border that will allow Orthodox Jews to carry objects from home to their synagogue on the Sabbath, will be constructed around Palo Alto after eight years of attempts to gain city approval.
Posted by Adrian, a resident of another community, on Jun 19, 2007 at 2:28 pm
This just, again, drives home just how insane the religious are. I am embarrassed for mankind. When one man has a nutty delusion, he is generally thought of as mad and we have pity on him ... but when a great many share the same nutty delusion, we call it religion and accord it (at least most of us) great respect. Read "The God Delusion" by Dawkins or "End of Faith" by Harris for lots of meaty details about what an utter and ongoing disaster religion is for mankind. There are lots of ideas about various gods floating around out there... your garden variety mono-theist believes in one of these. An atheist is only someone who believes in just one less god than the mono-theist. We all start out as atheists and then an amazingly large percentage of us are infected (by brainwashing) with (usually) the religion of our parents. Get real, get rational and read all about it in the aforementioned books. For the sake of peace on earth and mankind's collective psychological health in general, we must kick the harmful religion habit!
Posted by Fred, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 3:07 pm
Resident, I had heard this was hotly debated several years back, which was striking since, as the article mentions, it is a fairly common practice on the east coast. Do you recall what kindled the earlier debate?
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 3:16 pm
Can't remember all the details, been to sleep since then. But, it was partly to do with separation of church (religion)and state and cost of upkeep, rental to the city for use of their power poles and so on and so forth.
It seems that in true Palo Alto fashion, for everyone in favor of the idea, there was someone against it and the arguing went on for ages. My thoughts on the matter may have been that 9/11 came along and it didn't seem very important in the big picture at that stage.
FYI, PAUSD must be fairly unique in the fact that it governs its school calendar around jewish holidays!
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 3:18 pm
I remember the earlier debates--people were opposed to it because of the so-called separation of church and state issue--there was also an individual from Woodside who was agitating against it for other reasons.
When it was announced the city council, led by Liz Kniss, were falling over themselves saying it was good idea.
Then once the opposition to it became vocal, our city council put their tail between their legs and refused to even go on record with a vote for or against it.
I remember e-mailing Ms Kniss, who i believe was mayor at the time. She wrote me back saying that it was a very complicated issue and not easy to solve. No, what it turned into was a controversial issue that the city council was afraid to address for fear of upsetting people ( see a pattern here???).
Posted by Fred, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 3:37 pm
Thanks Resident and Marvin, that is helpful background. Yes, Marvin, it does sound a little familiar at this point.
Resident, on school calendars, we may be unusual in California, but in the northeast, there are many towns which schedule around the Jewish holidays. Having lived in one (and not being Jewish), I can tell you that it made sense strictly as a practical matter, since otherwise you'd have a large percentage of the kids absent. But you don't get a whole lot done in September between Labor Day and the High Holidays.
Posted by Rod, a resident of the Monroe Park neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 3:46 pm
I am an agnostic. I am not enough of a true believer to be an atheist. I feel that I sit in the middle of the 'faith' battles, watching the mortars fly over my head, as I read the Bhagavad Gita and feel a sublime sense of the spiritual oneness of all things - or the nothingness of it all.
True belief is not going away, so I try think pragmatically. Do people of religion cause more problems than non-believers, or do they provide a moral base for society? I have come down on the side of the latter over the former. I could try to convince myself either way, but the mass murder by the socialists in the 20th century sways me to the side of the religious folks (who killed less, combined, over the previous 50 centuries).
If I had to cross through a park at night time, and there was a religious group holding a Bible or Quran study group, I would not hesitate; however, if the group was studying Mao's red book, I would take the long path around them.
The First Ammendment was written to avoid the establishment of a state church (e.g. Church of England). It was not meant to suppress religion. Sounds pretty fair to me. You won't see me in any house of worship, but accomodation of religion does not bother me a bit.
Posted by curious, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 4:24 pm
I love how Orthodox Judaism has come up with a loophole around it's own strict laws like this. Whoever came up with this idea is brilliant!
Just curious: If the string around the city was broken, say by accident, and not discovered till many days later, does that mean the Eruv is broken and that the people who follow this law were violating the Sabbath?
Posted by R Wray, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 4:49 pm
This approval was very sneaky in view of the hot controversy when it came up before.
The string is just silly. I wouldn't be concerned with it except it will become sacrosanct. There will be hell to pay if the City or anyone wants to move a pole, tree or other support.
The main problem I have (if it's like before) is that to make this effective the city has to issue a proclamation (in the name of all who live in the city) that this exists and serves a legitimate purpose. I don't want this done in my name. This brings up the separation-of-church issue.
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 5:14 pm
Regarding the broken string question--before the onset of the sabbath (firday afternoon) someone goes around and inspect sthe eruv--if it is broken he informs the community and they know notto carry stuff on the sabbath.
I think you need to read the comments from the City Attorney in the original article and the well written lines by Rod above:
"The First Ammendment was written to avoid the establishment of a state church (e.g. Church of England). It was not meant to suppress religion. Sounds pretty fair to me. You won't see me in any house of worship, but accomodation of religion does not bother me a bit."
There is no separation of church and state issue here--there are eruvs all over the country--courts have ruled in favor of eruvs.
i really hope that this is not going to re-ignite another typical Palo Alto brouhaha ( as resident put it-"It seems that in true Palo Alto fashion, for everyone in favor of the idea, there was someone against it and the arguing went on for ages. ") where a mountain will be made out of a molehill.
Posted by David Lieberman, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 5:18 pm
There was more to it than that:
The original proposal called for a city proclamation that Palo Alto is a "Jewish City" and the symbolic "purchase" of the city by the Jewish community for a nominal sum (like one dollar).
The purchase was to be described in a contract (in Hebrew, of course, so the Goyim couldn't read it). If THAT doesn't violate the establishment clause of the Constitution I don't know what does.
Maybe the rabbi has dropped those requests or maybe Baum doesn't understand what is going on. That wouldn't surprise me; I have the impression the man is not too bright.
I would also like to know what would happen if some non-Jew who lives in Palo Alto were to say that living in an Eruv violates his religious principles. Wouldn't that be a violation of his rights to freely practice his religion?
I suspect that all Eruvim are in violation of the first amendment and that they haven't been challenged in court simply out of laziness.
Oh, and before somebody accuses me of being an anti-semite, I am just as Jewish as that rabbi.
P.S. years ago in an article in the New Yorker about a similar controversy in London Calvin Trillin described an Eruv as a "magic shlepping circle" a description which still makes me chuckle.
Posted by Fred, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 6:10 pm
David, hard to tell if you are just joking, trying to make a point, or have an earnest objection. That's a weakness of online forums.
I have a hard time seeing how an eruv would violate the establishment clause. It is fishing lines and twine strung from telephone poles, supported with private funds. Given that it is a fairly common practice, I presume it is not being challenged much in the courts - maybe out of laziness, maybe because there is no challenge to make.
The other requirements are interesting, perhaps others can shed light. They seem pretty token and untroubling. I'm sure an independent party could handle the translation tasks if a document is in fact needed.
I don't think anyone could plausibly claim that being surrounded by another's fishing lines violates his religious freedom. I'm not aware of any religion that has a tenet of faith that "thou shalt not live within an eruv." Are you?
Being a member of a group of course doesn't completely prevent one from being prejudiced against that same group. But you come across more as argumentative than anything else, at least from the brief post. I do like the schlepping circle quote.
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 6:42 pm
David--do you have any documentations or links for the part about the contract?
I do not remember that coming up in the public discussion, but my memory could be duzzy. i do remember in the end the city council was very proud of themselves, after refusing, out of cowardice to take a stand, to vote on the issue, they proposed that instead of string between the poles that it be somehow painted on!!!!
Here is a link to a website discussing legal challenges to an eruv:
In addition here is part of an article about a case in which current Supreme Court Justice Alito ruled in favor of an eruv:
"In the 2004 Blackhawk opinion, Judge Alito found for a Native American required to pay a special fee for owning animals for religious purposes. Alito held that a civic ordinance may not “target religiously motivated conduct either on its face or as applied in practice.” More importantly, he affirmed the key elements of the famous Tenafly Eruv case where the court found that a New Jersey town discriminatorily forbade the construction of an eruv – a symbolic enclosure enabling Jews to carry on Shabbat. "
Posted by First-Amendment-Respecter, a resident of another community, on Jun 19, 2007 at 7:43 pm
Dave Lieberman Wrote:
The original proposal called for a city proclamation that
Palo Alto is a "Jewish City" and the symbolic "purchase"
of the city by the Jewish community for a nominal sum (like one dollar).
The purchase was to be described in a contract (in Hebrew, of course,
so the Goyim couldn't read it). If THAT doesn't violate the
establishment clause of the Constitution I don't know what does.
Yes, that was the case. It's actually a little more complicated than this. In order to make the declaration a "Jewish City" (or words to that effect), the City had to effectively "bind" all of the public and private property inside the borders of the proposed Eruv and once it could be demonstrated that all of the property was "blended", then the Council would issue a proclamation to that effect. To do the "blending", this required having control of all of the private property, or at least something akin to a "religious easement" (allowing someone to use the property). The laws of Eruvim allowed observant Jews to ask permission of all of those owning property within the Eruvim, or to pay them for their permission to use the property. This becomes difficult, and expensive, so the local observant Jews were demanding that the Council use eminent domain to take control of the "religious easements" of all of the private property in Palo Alto. This meant that people who were not Jewish would have their property involved in a Jewish ritual, or religious activity -- whether they wanted that to happen or not. It seems to me that I read somewhere that if anyone who owned property was opposed to the Eruv, then the Eruv would not be "kosher". The "proclamation" became a sticking point. Even the previous City Attorney was able to see that. He ducked the issue of whether using eminent domain to take people's "religious easements" crossed the First Amendment line.
> Maybe the rabbi has dropped those requests or maybe Baum
> doesn't understand what is going on. That wouldn't surprise me;
> I have the impression the man is not too bright.
When it became clear that the "Proclamation" would be a First Amendment issue, the Rabbi dropped the demand. How he managed to keep the Eruv "kosher" was an open question, but as it turned out --the City Attorney could not ask that question because that would have clearly crossed the First Amendment line.
> I would also like to know what would happen if some
> non-Jew who lives in Palo Alto were to say that living in
> an Eruv violates his religious principles. Wouldn't that be
> a violation of his rights to freely practice his religion?
Not as long as the City has not used any eminent domain to "bind" or "blend" public and private property, or to engage in any ceremonial practices such as issue this "Proclamation". If the issue were to simply provide permits for the poles, then the Cityâ€™s participation would be essentially mandated by the current thinking of the Supreme Court, that has been very "religion friendly" since the early 1970s.
If the City were to become involved in management of the string/wire, or any other practices that are mandated by Jewish Law, then the plot thickens. Certainly the City has spent what are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, dealing with this matter.
Since the public thought that this was put to bed years ago, the City's involvement is certainly questionable at this time.
> I suspect that all Eruvim are in violation of the first amendment
> and that they haven't been challenged in court simply out of
This is probably true, but again, it depends on the amount of municipal involvement. Eruvim can be declared as â€śupâ€ť and "kosher" on private land. There are a number of court cases about these religious practices. It's clear that the Jews have worked very hard to create a set of "talking points" about this practice. None of the opposition cases seem to have worked very hard, it would seem.
One key point that pops out of the briefs that are posted on-line is that Eruvim are not "symbolic" or any religious icon, so therefore they are not "religious" in nature. Since an Eruv is a symbolic extension of the home, and this whole concept is only found in Judaism, why the Courts have not been able to recognize that they are clearly a religious symbol defies the imagination. Unfortunately -- Judges aren't the brightest bulbs in the pack either.
Posted by A Resident, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 7:43 pm
I can remember why it failed before. The Eruv boundary was to stay in Palo Alto, therefore, it went up Charleston/Arastradero. That excluded several South Palo Alto neighborhoods. The alternative was to put the Eruv up San Antonio Road but that meant involving Mountain View. Also, they wanted to use City owned property (namely light poles) to mark the boundaries which a lot of residents objected to. As time went by, like many issues it got ever more convoluted, controversial and contentious, so the orthodox community withdrew the idea.
Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 8:23 pm
If the Eruv string or wire is broken who will repair it? Is the City responsible or will the local rabbi dispatch a line crew and ladder truck to do the work? Has their crew received safety training working aloft and around power lines?
From the article there, it does seem like a lot depends on the requirements of specific rabbis as to what, for their flock, will constitute an effective eruv. We don't seem to have those details here.
In terms of the "contract," the clip below is from the FAQ on the Boston area eruv. I did not get a sense that there was a religious easement imposed or the use of eminent domain, though that could be researched. Again, the fact that there are dozens of eruvs nationwide, it seems like sensible approaches have been found elsewhere. Hopefully that is the case in PA now!
From the Boston Eruv FAQ:
After all legal contracts with all the utilities, agencies, organization and all are completed, the "reshut" (permission) to lease the land located within the Eruv for a pretty long time (we used 99 years) must be secured.
We created a certificate-sized document attesting to the fact that for the transfer of 1 silver dollar between the Greater Boston Eruv Corporation and each of the entities with whom we needed to create the lease, that the area within the Eruv would belong to the GBEC for only the purpose of carrying on Shabbat and Yom Tov that falls on Shabbat and Yom Kippur.
This document and the silver dollar attached to its face (all within a nice frame) was handed to the representative of the relevant organization (e.g., governor, mayor) and a "kinyan" was made. That is, the certificate was placed in the hand of the individual and they raised it up from our hand signifying that they were taking ownership of the certificate and were agreeing to the terms written within the certificate.
Posted by First-Amendment-Respecter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 8:42 pm
> From the article there, it does seem like a lot depends
> on the requirements of specific rabbis as to what, for
> their flock, will constitute an effective eruv. We don't
> seem to have those details here.
Yes. It is almost impossible to find to Rabbis who agree to what a â€śKosherâ€ť Eruv might be. There are some ultra-Orthodox Rabbis who are opposed to Eruvim. Their thinking is that anything that allows for people to deviate from a very strict reading of the Torah, should be avoided. Those Rabbis will not approve of Eruvimâ€”no matter how they are constructed.
> That is, the certificate was placed in the hand of the
> individual and they raised it up from our hand signifying
> that they were taking ownership of the certificate and
> were agreeing to the terms written within the certificate.
This is where the matter probably crosses the First Amendment boundaries.
Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 9:29 pm
It is really getting embarrassing to live in this town any longer. I have not heard a thing about this in the past eight years and then, wham! it get approved? What is wrong with this town's city council? Don't they have better things to do? Methinks this got pushed through quietly as to avoid the recent MI type of debate, how is this even possible? Is there no way to hold some sort of line on always bending over to accommodate every cultural or religious "requirement?"
And I just recently got over the embarrassment I felt when I saw our new Mayor pedaling in that ridiculous "pedal car" in this last May Fete Parade and now this? Egads!, how very-very PC! I hope we all feel very good about ourselves now.
Posted by someone, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 9:51 pm
I am tired of religion and their stupid dogma. Stop wasting money on these insipid old beliefs and stop destroying our world with wars after wars. This is the 21st C get over it! Focus on science and the advancement of mankind through science and education not some fictitious ideas with a lot of rubbish attached to it that causes so much trouble!
Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 10:28 pm
It is impossible for me to see how an eruv is NOT religious..saying it is "just some twine" is like saying a wooden cross is "just two pieces of wood".
But, I also have no problem with EVERY religious symbol being granted public land space. It is freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. Separation of church and state means the state will not establish a state religion, even so far as to favor just one over teh other. So, for me, so as long as no taxpayers bear any of the costs or risks of having an eruv in any way, shape or form, I say go for it. But, better be ok to allow many other religious symbols along various paths as well.
For example, I have longed for a place to do a Stations of the Cross, not just in a Church. What would happen ( not going to do it, because I am too private of a person, so I go out in the woods for my private stations), but what would happen if a group wanted to post little pieces of paper with pictures on them at various places along a route so that those so inclined could do their stations?
HONESTLY, not stirring trouble, just thinking online.
Again, I say go for the eruv!
And, for those who feel qualified to bash religion..please note how tolerant everyone else is of your beliefs.
Posted by First-Amendment-Respecter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 10:41 pm
> So, for me, so as long as no taxpayers bear any of
> the costs or risks of having an eruv in any way, shape or form
The problem is that all private and public space is taken by the City and given to the people wanting to establish the Eruv, without any input from the public about the use of the public ‘space’ for that purpose, or (most likely all of) the private property owners, relative to the use of their ‘space’ for this purpose.
The City should not be involved with this sort of ‘taking’. There is clearly support for the practice of this religion when the City is involved in religious practices such as this one.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 10:54 pm
I'd always sort of wondered about what happened with the Eruv.
My sense of it has always been that it's a li'l bit iffy on that whole separation of temple/state issue, but I've never been able to work up much excitement about some string--on either side--the idea that some string would allow me to do things that would otherwise mean breaking religious law . . .there's a combination of the rational and irrational that I find weirdly sublime.
Posted by Dont-Balkanize-PA, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2007 at 11:22 pm
The two PACE organizations got their way...and thus the balkanization of Palo Alto has begun.
We should not be carving Palo Alto into small little niche groups all fighting to get their way (quite often at the expense of others).
We are all citizens of Palo Alto, California, the United States and the world. We should be emphasizing our common interests, not those with special interests.
If we allow this to go through then want what other accommodations will we need to make to other niche groups? prayer station, minarets and calls to prayer? Groups that want to have ethnically exclusionary elementary school programs?
If you want to observe some strict religious dogma you should do it in the privacy of your own home instead of requiring some religious easement of my property for an organization that wouldn't allow me to be a member. After all, would these people be willing to accommodate my religious practices on there property? Given that they are Orthodox I'm doubtful.
I live along one the paths mentioned previously for the eruv. And if that "fishing line" graces my backyard, I'd be tempted to hang a "Fish Fear Me" bumper sticker off it. After all there might be someone out in Palo Alto who spends their "religious day" of the week in quite solitude on a lake in a small boat, with reel, tackle and bait. Likely a Member of the Church of Hemingway
Perhaps "fishing wire" wire hung along lamp posts with a "fish fear me" bumper sticker attached might be an important part of their religious practice, and it just wouldn't be right to exclude them now would it?
Posted by Unbelievable, a member of the Walter Hays School community, on Jun 20, 2007 at 12:19 am
Maybe what's really going on is a competition among the fundamentalists of all religions to see who can come up with the most bizarre and preposterous schemes. At least this one doesn't seem to harm anyone and if they like fooling themselves who gives a hoot.
There seems to be no limit to what religions dream up. The only problem is when they get real power. Then the bloodshed begins.
Posted by Fred, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 12:36 am
What an interesting discussion. Somewhat surprising to be honest.
Allowing a privately funded eruv to use public right of ways does not seem to constitute an endorsement of religion at all. The twine or fishing line, unlike a cross or star of david, is not a religious symbol - it is a border. Note that creek bed or steep hill - or an actual wall - perform the same function. In the case of the Tenafly NJ eruv (2002), the US Court of Appeals found that allowing the eruv did not constitute an endorsement; the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
The idea that permitting an eruv - privately funded and maintained - is somehow pandering to a splinter interest group - I really don't get that. They are not forcing their agenda or priorities on anyone; no-one goes without what they want in order to allow the eruv to go forward.
The idea that to enable an eruv requires a "taking" by eminent domain - I can't find any discussion of this anywhere. Perhaps First Amendment Respecter can supply some references to shed light on this. Having lived in a town where an eruv was established while I was living there, I can report it had no effect on anything and was a total non-issue at the time or anytime after. The White House and most of central Washington DC are in fact within an eruv. Here is a link to the "kinyan" (contract) used by the Boston-area eruv, apparently entered into with the state of Massachusetts, apparently without legal challenge or other meaningful impact:
Perhaps there are details in the Palo Alto proposal that aren't clear that cause special problems. But if not, I'm struggling to see why we should oppose something that costs nothing, is virtually invisible, does not interfere with our rights or enjoyment of property, is legally permitted, is already implemented without incident in many other places large and small, and provides a very valuable service to some of our neighbors.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 7:41 am
Hmmm, Fred...interesting point. ( I am the one who commented on the "2 pieces of wood" not being a religious symbol either). I hadn't thought of how creeks, walls etc can qualify as the "wall".
So, it is still symbolically religious, in that it is for a religious purpose, but I am understanding better how it is really more of a very generic symbol, and less of a concrete symbol in how the symoblism is revealed.
Even so, I don't think allowing little symbols anywhere constitutes an "endorsement" by "state", as long as equal access is allowed, so I am more liberal in my interpretation than some ( probably most.
I still say "go for it"..unless it is true that private property is being taken in easements as one writer says above. Please cite your source. Easements should only happen for the common good, not for the few.
As for calls to prayer etc...At that point, it is a religious thing that intrudes on my space, my sounds. I would draw the line at anything that has specific sounds, or visual fields I cannot avoid.
According to Palo Alto City Attorney Ariel Calonne, to validate an eruv in Orthodox Jewish law, the City Council must have eminent domain power over private property. But in California only courts possess such power. Calonne has also reported that Jewish law requires the council to assert consent for an eruv on behalf of non-Jewish eruv district residents. Would consent expressed by such a tiny minority be valid in Jewish law? (There are nine council members.)
A council committee has initiated several investigations by city employees into how the council's civil power can make special provisions of Orthodox Jewish law become effective. To activate the provisions, the council must evidently enact an ordinance that effects the conversion of the whole eruv district into private Jewish space. The ordinance, it seems, must use eminent domain authority, or perhaps other powers, to defeat Fourth Amendment security and privacy rights of some 50,000 non-Jewish inhabitants.
Related to the forming of eruvei chatzeiros is the issue of being mocheh. Some claim that when a frum yid is mocheh it disrupts the unity needed for eruvei chatzeiros. However most poskim maintain that this does not create a problem (U’Bacharta B’Chaim, siman 123; Taanugei Yisroel, 2:42:7; Tzitz Eliezer, 19:17; Emek HaTeshuvah, 4:21-23, and Kovetz Ohr Yisroel, vol. 18, 21). Additionally, since we contract sechiras reshus from the city and state governments, even those poskim who have a problem with sechiras reshus when a frum yid is mocheh would allow carrying based on the power of eminent domain (Kovetz Ohr Yisroel vol. 32-33; and read carefully Divrei Yatziv 2:173:6).
Posted by Another resident or so, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 9:20 am
Being able to keep church and state completely separate is one of the most ridiculous ideas going. Every time you write the date you are using a religious counting scheme. To keep this idea up, you would have to start counting years from somewhere else. For America, it would be the date of the constitution. For Britain, it would be 1066. etc. etc. etc.
Posted by Fred, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 9:36 am
Thanks FAR, in fact I did Google that term and a few others (eruv taking, eruv easement).
I took from the fact that the first result was off point (same words in unrelated articles), the second was a religious blog, and items #3-#5 all referenced PA Online (one a letter to the Editor from 2000 that you quote above; another this very thread!), that there was not a lot of well-reported references out there to shed light on our situation. If you exclude "Palo Alto" from the search, I did not see any items listed on the first results page that seemed germane.
Your second reference I can't really make much of. It comes from a blog that seems to be a fairly technical treatment of the eruv topic from an Orthodox Jewish point of view (lots of Hebrew terms and book references that I don't understand).
I was hoping for references where opponents, or courts, or journalists, or city or state officials in our situation (other than our own PA City Attorney) laid out their thinking on this. We are not inventing the wheel here, there are dozens and dozens of eruvs in municipalities. Hopefully we can learn from how they handled the issue (or if in fact an issue exists); or learn from towns that did not permit an eruv what their thinking was.
As mentioned above, it may be the requirements of the specific local rabbi that create special conditions here - I can't tell.
Posted by Disgusted, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 10:05 am
I am disgusted not by the single act of religious vanity like this eruv madness but the hold religion still has on millions of people around the world in this day of science and technology. Almost everything can be explained through physics, and yet they still cling to superstition and some unscientific, uncorroborated, unsubstantiated fairy tales written many centuries earlier, when people were generally ignorant and illiterate.
Wake up! Can't you see what religion is doing to many parts of the world? Maybe their gods are happy to see their believers fight against non-believers, who in fact are believers of other gods.
By the way, Palo Alto is fast becoming a nice Jewish enclave. Be on the lookout for an influx of orthodox Jews to settle down here just so they can walk the streets fearless on Saturdays. How nice!
Posted by First-Amendment-Respecter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 10:22 am
> Your second reference I can't really make much of. It
> comes from a blog that seems to be a fairly technical
> treatment of the eruv topic from an Orthodox Jewish
> point of view (lots of Hebrew terms and book references
> that I don't understand).
Yes, this is true. There is nothing about Eruvim that isn’t in the realm of Hebrew and Rabbinic interpretation. Part of the problem here is that understanding what an Eruv is is almost impossible to ascertain (at least in English). Most of the literature is in Hebrew, some found in the Talmud, and the rest in various writings of Rabbis.
The whole idea seems to gravitate around one of the Ten Commandments—‘ Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy’.
While the Commandments appear first in the Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, enforcement of this Commandment shows up shortly thereafter:
"Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness,
they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day.
And those who found him gathering sticks brought him
to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. They
put him under guard, because it had not been explained
what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses,
'The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation
shall stone him with stones outside the camp.' So, as the
LORD commanded Moses, all the congregation brought
him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he
It would seem that the Sixth Commandment (“Thou shalt not murder”) did not carry as much weight to these people, as they stoned this poor man to death at the command of Moses, Aaron and their Deity (YAHWEH).
Whether this story is true or not—this idea of ‘No Carrying’ seems to have taken hold in this religion, whether or not this Torah story is true, or not. This particular passage does not specifically identify ‘public land’ in the story, but certainly the man was not on “private” property at the time of this incident.
A small number of scholarly works exist which provide (in English) insight into the origins of Eruvim. (Unfortunately, these papers seem to be on posted on sites which house such journals, requiring a subscription to gain access.). The following one looks interesting--
From Separatism to Urbanism: The Dead Sea Scrolls and
From time-to-time, some Jewish WEB-sites carry little tidbits of information about the history of Eruvim. One story has it that people about the time of Solomon were very unhappy with the ‘laws’ which they had been forced to live under—created by the Rabbis. Discontent was high enough that the contrivance of an Eruv was created. For some reason, ‘carrying’ inside the home was permitted, so the idea of extending the home to include all a much larger space so that one was ‘symbolically” (or ‘magically’ or ‘religiously’) inside their own home—then ‘carrying’ outside one’s own home would now be ‘religiously legal’.
Clearly—this whole idea is the work of the Rabbis. It is not ‘divinely ordained’—other than in the example above that would require people to kill a neighbor who failed to abide by the rules.
As Jews moved in Europe, the idea of Eruv moved with them. Since Jews tended to live in localized areas (either by edict or by choice), creating Eruvim became simple, since the physical areas were small, and the walls (which were important to the creation of Eruvim originally) were frequently present. As the Orthodox increased the size of these Eruvim, problems emerged which have been resolved by Rabbinic edict. For instance, when the boundary of a Eruv crosses a river, a bridge will take the place of a wall or a row of telephone poles. Obviously, Bridges and telephone poles didn’t exist in ancient Israel, so the Rabbis have been the agents of change—allowing this ‘legal fiction’ to migrate from ancient times to modern times.
Eruvim have not been wholeheartedly accepted by all Jews--
The sect of the Sadducees - possibly from Hebrew Tsdoki צדוקי [sˤə.đo.'qi], whence Zadokites or other variants - was founded in the 2nd century BCE, possibly as a political party, and ceased to exist sometime after the 1st century CE.
They opposed the Pharisaic idea of the eruv, the merging of several private precincts into one in order to admit of the carrying of food and vessels from one house to another on the Sabbath.
This gets us back to whether a City’s/Government’s using eminent domain and/or issuing Proclamations claiming that it had “joined” all of the land within its jurisdiction into a “Jewish space” in accordance of Jewish/Rabbinic Law constitutes an endorsement of Religion or not. American First Amendment Law seems to want the Government to be ‘neutral’ to religion. Certainly using taking private property for use by a religious group would be such an endorsement. In cases like this one, the property is not physically ‘taken’, which complicates the argument. On the other hand, it the City were to do anything in compliance with religious law, then how is it remaining ‘neutral’?
The question as to how much local control of the situation each Rabbi has also begs the question as to how a City Government can remain neutral when there is no clearly established body of 'religious law' to deal with when it comes to defining what a religious practice might be?
Posted by David, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 10:44 am
First-Amendment-Respecter – You like most people are ignorant of the laws of eruvin and are conflating issues. There is no requirement to enact the power of eminent domain at all in the laws of eruvin, only that the rental should be done from one who has the power to condemn. This rental is ceremonial, hence the nominal fee that is required.
The courts have always ruled that there is no religious issue with eruvin. Poles and strings are not religious symbols per se they are a legal fiction that represent a wall.
Posted by David, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 10:49 am
It's important to note, an eruv is not a loophole at all. There are very few areas where there is a Biblical proscription against carrying on Shabbos. In most areas carrying is only forbidden rabbinically. It was the Rabbis who prohibited carrying, and it was they who enacted the laws of eruvin to allow carrying.
Posted by David, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 11:12 am
“And why should most people be knowledgeable of Eruvim?”
I agree there is no reason for most people to be knowledgeable of eruvin. However, you quoted sources out of context to buttress your arguments. You seem to have done some research regarding the issue, and I am just correcting you inaccuracies.
“Courts routinely rule wrongly. Clearly, Eruvim have no purpose outside of a religious context.”
It’s the best system in an imperfect world. True eruvin serve no purpose outside of a religious context but they are no different then most strings that are suspended all over town. I reiterate, they are not religious per se.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 11:16 am
I see nothing wrong with Palo Alto becoming a jewish enclave. Their next step will probably be to get a Hebrew Immersion public school. Then I will feel that there is something wrong with the Palo Alto way, not the jews.
Posted by Disgusted, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 11:42 am
I can't believe some of the scholarly discussions going on about eruv. Some fanatics created something as ridiculous as stringing twine and it becomes a subject of serious discussion. How insane has religion become?
Posted by First-Amendment-Respecter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 11:51 am
> However, you quoted sources out of context to buttress
> your arguments.
Whose context? Eruvim have changed over the centuries. Originally they were bounded by loaves of bread. Today they are bounded by walls and string. Obviously the specifications of Eruvim are not immutable. The obvious question is why, in 2007, modern society has to ‘accommodate’ this practice that is unique to one specific group when their religious leaders could change the laws.
> It’s the best system in an imperfect world
Be that as it may, Religion, Science, Medicine, Philosophy and many other transcendent topics have no place being adjudicated in a Court of Law. How many judges have ever taken an comparative religion course, would you guess. And how many questions on the Bar Exam would you care to guess involve religious practices, or matters?
> I reiterate, they are not religious per se.
And what is ‘religious, per se’?
I people act one way in the presence of an Eruv and another in its absence—that is certainly one of the characteristics of a religious practice.
The blogs on Mandarin, FTTH, and now the eruv attract many comments, some of which blame the school board and city council for their actions. We need to elect council members who will act wisely. Who are they? What qualifications do they need?
Posted by David Lieberman, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 12:39 pm
No group in American society has benefited more from first amendment proscriptions against religious establishment than the Jews.
Remember that as recently as 50 years ago the school day in most of the United States began with recitation of the Lord's Prayer. It was Jewish-led organizations that challenged such practices and Jewish lawyers who argued the cases that led to abolishment of those coercive practices.
It pains me to see Jews going hat in hand to secular authority and begging for favors.
The argument that all of this is merely "symbolic" misses the point. Religion is all about symbols. What if the city council were to issue a "symbolic" decree that Palo Alto was a Catholic city and "symbolically" sold the city to the Church for one dollar? Can you hear the cries of outrage from the orthodox Jewish community?
Posted by David, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2007 at 7:31 pm
“Whose context? Eruvim have changed over the centuries. Originally they were bounded by loaves of bread. Today they are bounded by walls and string. Obviously the specifications of Eruvim are not immutable. The obvious question is why, in 2007, modern society has to accommodate this practice that is unique to one specific group when their religious leaders could change the laws.”
Again you are making uneducated statements. You are conflating two distinct forms of eruvin. The loaves of bread you are referring to are called eruvei tanchumun and are important vis-a-vis the distance one can walk on Shabbos. Walls/poles and strings are eruvei chatzeiros and are necessary if one wants to carry outside. It is a rabbinic injunction to only permit carrying in an area that is bounded by an enclosure, since one can mistakenly carry in a Biblically proscribed area. This has not changed since rabbinical times and will not change today.
“Be that as it may, Religion, Science, Medicine, Philosophy and many other transcendent topics have no place being adjudicated in a Court of Law. How many judges have ever taken an comparative religion course, would you guess. And how many questions on the Bar Exam would you care to guess involve religious practices, or matters?”
This is totally irrelevant to the issue at hand.
“And what is religious, per se?
I people act one way in the presence of an Eruv and another in its absence that is certainly one of the characteristics of a religious practice.”
Posted by Hail Freedonia, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 12:03 am
I'm scratching my head over this discussion. A common definition of the word "symbol" is "something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible."
If I read the posts above correctly, some posters argue that thirteen miles of fishing line and twine draped around the city is not a "symbol" and most definitely not a "religious" symbol; rather, it is merely a "boundary" or a "legal fiction" or an "imaginary wall." Huh? Could someone explain again how this string doesn't fit the plain meaning of the word "symbol"? And why isn't this string a "religious" symbol? A cow is just a cow to most people in the world, but not necessarily to Hindus. One of the recurring arguments in this thread seems to be that this controversy is only about string hanging on utility poles, and since string is just string the Establishment Clause of the Second Amendment isn't an issue.
By the way, I'm thankful that our Hindu neighbors have not petitioned the City Council to allow cattle to roam free in our streets.
Posted by Elissa, a resident of Stanford, on Jun 21, 2007 at 8:58 am
Look, I don't know why this is being so hotly debated whether it is a symbolic extension of a home or whether it is some religious loophole -as someone who knows jewish women who are more or less imprisoned at home witht heir children becuase of the lack of an eruv, I think Palo Alto is doing a favor for women's liberation and women's rights by helping the Jewish community help their women to have more freedom. Loophole or not, I think the US is progressive enough to enable a religion to enable its women the freedom to leave their houses if they have small children. To not have the eruv means you would be forbidding the religon from enabling its women to be free to leave the house. Come on, in Palo Alto we are not the Taliban. Get off your legal high horses and think about the matter from a different angle.
Posted by Connie, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 9:11 am
LOL -so now Palo Alto has finally met religious women's rights... after years of oppressing their Jewish women by keeping them from walking outdoors on the sabath with their little children!! ...and I thought it was such a progressive city. Guess not until now.
RE: the comment about Jews benefiting from the 1st Amendment --we have benefited a lot from the Jews as well -the number of medical, scientific, and humanities discoveries they have made more than pay back for the way they have benefited from our laws. If you want to deny them benefit from what is legally the right of any human being (that IS what we attest to in our Constitution) then let's see how about denying you the technological, medical, legal, and whatever else advancements they have come up with which benefit mankind greatly, e.g. cell phone technoogy, computer technology, drugs to cure various diseases, etc. To be honest many of the ideas we hold dear originated with their society and their laws, e.g. the concept of judges who are not also kings/rulers and the morals most of us value despite not being Jewish.
I for one am glad they have their eruv, can walk about freely, and after all it is just a piece of see-through fishing line. Most of us will forget it even exists in a month or two after they put it up probably. We can in fact, imagine and pretend it isn't even there now!
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 9:43 am
Elissa - wow. The only ones oppressing jewish women who are 'imprisoned' in their homes on the sabbath, are the jewish women who are excercising their FREE WILL to believe what they wish to believe, and who are choosing to behave according to a myth system they have bought in to.
This may not be true in countries who legalize and enforce their religious myths, but in the US, every one is free to believe what they want to believe, every human being in the US (who is not in prison) has the right to wake up in the morning and change their mind about whether they are going to step outside today.
I frankly don't fee real sympathetic to this predicament. If people want to choose put themselves in a radical belief system which results in them living in the dark ages, that's their perogative.
Posted by S.O.C.A.S., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 9:52 am
As a non-sectarian member of the Palo Alto community, I am deeply offended and frightened by installation of a religious structure on public property.
Regardless of the minor practical impacts, it should be opposed and forbidden as a matter of principle, and a crucially important one at that.
Separation of church and state is one of the key things that makes this country so great. Construction of an Eruv is a violation of the constitutional rights of all Palo Altans, Jews and Gentiles alike.
Especially these days, how can anyone see this as a good thing given the bloody messes that inevitably results from confounding of politics with religion? Come on folks, this is the West Coast, not the West Bank. America knows better, or at least, it used to...
If you want to live under religious law, you are welcome to do so within your own homes, churches, mosques, synagogues, and other private properties. But when you start erecting monuments to your faith in the public square -- even subtle symbolic ones -- America must rise in opposition to your inappropriate, if well-intentioned, intent.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 10:00 am
What is the definition of "carrying". I am interested. I know that in Israel, elevators are fixed on the sabbath so that they stop automatically on each floor so that no buttons have to be pushed. Are wearing clothes "carrying"? If so, can't parents wear baby carriers that carry the child next to their bodies, thus keeping their hands free. This could carry onto bigger backpack like carriers in which toddlers could be worn.
Posted by joyce, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 10:45 am
I love this - the city gets surrounded by a piece of string for the Jewish community, but hey "it's not a religious symbol." Meanwhile just try to put up lights or any other display having to do with Christians on public property.
Hmm, what defines the outside and the inside of a boundary? How about a piece of string foming a circle 1 cm in diameter in the middle of the U.S., and define it as enclosing the world minus that 1 cm circle? A lot less work, and just as hypocritical.
Posted by Mary, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 10:49 am
I have no objection to the Jewish community stringing a line around Palo Alto as a way to avoid obeying their religious laws - this is between them and their beliefs. What I do object to greatly is the idea of declaring Palo Alto in any way a Jewish community. I do NOT want my property being taken, even symbolically, to support ANY orthodox or fundamentalist religion. Does anyone know if this is going to happen?
Posted by David, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 10:56 am
Mary – No one is not obeying their religious laws by establishing an eruv. No one is taking your property even symbolically (as if it makes a difference to you). This country is going from religious tolerance to religious intolerance.
Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 1:49 pm
i was wondering how long before the first name calling happened. This is going to rapidly escalate into throwing down the race card "anti-semite" against people who have legitimate and serious concerns.
The name calling begins when there is first name-thrower has run out of ways of refuting logic.
Posted by Moshe-Meir, a resident of another community, on Jun 21, 2007 at 2:20 pm
To all people who object to the eruv on the grounds that it "imposes" a religion's belief on the whole City of Palo Alto:
Following your logic, you must stop eating fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, milk, most brands of orange juice, and any processed food product with kosher certification because these items are kosher and observant Jews eat them on religious grounds!
I hear that it's possible to live on a diet of pork, shrimp, and lard but probably not very healty for you...
(This is a tongue-in-cheek comment intended to make people think about their objections and how far they're taking their arguments)
Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 3:26 pm
I am on the side of the Eruv, Moshe, but your logic is false. Forcing a string onto my property, or tax funded property, or forcing a symbolic "naming" of our town as a Jewish town ( I am not saying any of this is true, I am saying these are the concerns) are completely different from my choosing, as a Catholic, to eat kosher food because I know it is clean, the animals are killed as humanely as possible etc.
Posted by Judge Judy, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 3:36 pm
Years ago fromer City Attorney Ariel Calonne issued a written opinion about the proposed eruv. The current proposal is different than the original proposal, but it would be interesting to compare the legal reasoning in the opinions by the two different attorneys.
Posted by M Orsak, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 4:27 pm
Would you like it if tomorrow followers of another faith step up and insist a twine or rope be strung around neighborhoods they believe sanctifies them? or the placements of stones at certain intersections, however discreetly located, to facilitate the followers of their faith ? they too can claim it doesn't inconvenience others and they can point to the eruv as precedent. Where does this stop?
This is how trickle by trickle, drop by drop, string by string (or cross by cross, or some other something prescribed by some religion) we weaken the boundary between church and state that has kept us sane and away from the poison that afflicts much of the world today. I'm frankly alarmed and dismayed at this foolish step taken by the Orthodox (and rammed through without debate and a vote by the City).
We must speak out and win back our rights before it gets too late. And this especially calls for the moderates among the Jewish to speak out. Or we will end up being captives of what the minority (the Orthodox) within a minority have wrought upon themselves and all of us.
Posted by Moshe-Meir, a resident of another community, on Jun 21, 2007 at 4:37 pm
I'll give you a good example - the Mormons microfilm civil records all over the world and posthumously "convert" deceased people to their religion. That is their belief. Do I care? Of course not. Does it affect me or my ancestors? Acoording to my beliefs, it doesn't. I actually make use of their microfilms in researching my family's history; I pay my $6 per microfilm, look at it, print any interesting documents, and leave.
By the same token, you can live in Palo Alto and continue your regular activities regardless of the existence of an eruv.
A general comment: if the issue is "separation of Church and State", then this does not apply to the eruv because Jews do not go to Church!
Posted by M Orsak, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 4:41 pm
The David who said "this country is going from religious tolerance to religious intolerance" is absolutely right. But he got it backward for he is projecting in ascribing intolerance to those who question the place of the eruv in public life.
The eruv takes us from tolerance to intolerance. Absent it, life would have continued normal for most with some difficulty for the Orthodox Jews who chose (entirely on their own) to live within the constraints of their practice. With the eruv it becomes easy for that small number but at the cost of imposing on the (much) larger number.
When one imposes their faith on others that's cause for intolerance. And this eruv is a step in that direction, sadly.
Posted by Moshe-Meir, a resident of another community, on Jun 21, 2007 at 4:43 pm
One more comment - you call unobservant (or partially observant) Jews "moderate". However, who is to say what is a "moderate"? Only if you start from the point of view that our laws and traditions are false, or man-made, or "irrelevant in today's world". On the other hand, for those of us who believe that our traditions are eternal and absolute, then those who do not follow the basic precepts like Shabbat observance are not "moderates".
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 4:46 pm
I am for the Eruv if it isn't on private property against the will of the owner, on tax funded property in the way of anything we fund for the property, not visible or "audible", and if we aren't symbolically or otherwise turned into a "Jewish" ( or Cathoalic, or Muslim, ) city.
I think the concerns are valid of those who are opposed. That slippery slope leads to this appalling "next step", ( see link below) so we will have to be careful to be very clear what we will and will not tolerate as intrusion on our private and public "space".
Posted by Concerned, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 4:47 pm
Moshe, would you or anyone Jewish object if someone uses the eruv string to fly a kite or tie something down or to achieve something practical as your use of the Mormon microfilm to research your family history?
If you don't, that example you brought up of your using the Mormon microfilm is applicable to the eruv discussion we have on hand here.
If not, it emphasizes why the eruv has no place in a secular society.
Posted by Moshe-Meir, a resident of another community, on Jun 21, 2007 at 4:48 pm
You wrote "With the eruv it becomes easy for that small number but at the cost of imposing on the (much) larger number."
Imposing what? Believe me, you or anybody else is NOT going to trip over the eruv wires.
This society already has many built-in restrictions, laws and customs based on more than one religious belief. However, I do not see anyone screaming "bloody murder" because their office is closed on December 25; do you?
Posted by Moshe-Meir, a resident of another community, on Jun 21, 2007 at 4:54 pm
The Mormons make their microfilms available to anyone for private genealogical research, and they get some of my money in return. So there is no problem for them when I use this service and it does not take away from their beliefs (ask them about this; I have).
If somebody uses the eruv wires to fly a kite without permission, the analogy does not hold. Hoever, let's say they needed one of the wires during the week and made arrangements to borrow them and put the wire back before Shabbat. In that case there would be no problem and THEN the analogy with the microfilms would be best.
Your analogy would only hold if the Mormons thought that the microfilms should not be disturbed, and I sneaked in to take one without permission.
Posted by NoWayJose, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 4:56 pm
Moshe, the problem with those "eternal and absolute" traditions you refer to is that they always make some the Chosen and the rest are left out. The advantage we have made over the years, and which we need to guard carefully and vigilantly, is that we have arrived at what we have today through much trial and error, much bloodshed (and seemingly not finished yet), but arguably a better place where all are equal before the Law in this secular society.
It seems you have a problem with that and want special privileges for yourself and your brethren. I have nothing against you or your faith or your brethren but what does worry and alarm me, and others, is you don't seem to realize that what you ask for places all of us on a slippery slope. I just don't want to go there. Thank you, I'm happy without these pressure groups and special interests, especially of the religious kind, making fools of the rest of the population while gaining special privileges denied everyone else.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 4:57 pm
Moshe: I completely support your right, and the right of every person, to worship freely as you see fit and follow God's laws as you deem them to be, as long as your beliefs are not forced onto me. I think that is what people mean by "moderate". In other words, those who put our common belief in our constitution and Bill of Rights, and have no desire to inconvenience others for our religious beliefs. We used to have "blue laws" for example that did not allow businesses to be open on Sundays, but did away with them for the same reasons of not inconveniencing those who did not believe the same way we do.
For example, ( and I mean this respectfully, ok? The problem with the written word is that it is so easy to be misunderstood.)
There is a part of my faith that has people called to a life of silence, prayer, and solitude. What if that part asked for the ability to stop traffic for 10 minutes from 2:50 to 3 am one time per week, and again 4-4:10 am, so that they could go, in solitude, from their convent to the store? Obviously, I am being a little facetious, and I am exaggerating madly. But my point is that we could see that request as a request for "tolerance", or we could see it as a further erosion of respecting each of us to maintain ourselves within the confines of our own society without intruding on others.
So, I am not saying this is how I see the Eruv. But, I am saying that people who have concerns have valid concerns and need to be respected.
Posted by Irwin G, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 5:10 pm
Moshe attempts to justify the eruv by claiming this country, closed on Dec 25, has already violated the separation of church and state.
I'm no proponent of religious holidays. They have no place in a truly secular society. However I'm pragmatic enough to acknowledge we aren't fully secular but making good attempts to not make a good situation worse. Which is where Moshe's tactic of coupling Dec 25 holiday to the eruv worries me.
Does one error justify another?
Where does this stop? What next would be demanded for Good Friday or some other holiday? And would President's Day be next (because someone doesn't respect the President)? ...
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 7:39 pm
Why do you assume that it will be vandalized? There are eruvs all over the country and they are not vandalized. Are you saying that because it is Palo Alto, where everyone has to be able to put their two cents in ad nauseum and expects their opinion to be the one listened to, their would be vandalism of the eruv by those opposed to it?
That would be a very sad statement about Palo Alto.
Posted by David Lieberman, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 10:03 pm
This is somewhat off topic but...
"the Mormons microfilm civil records all over the world and posthumously "convert" deceased people to their religion. That is their belief. Do I care? Of course not. "
Really? It was revealed a few years ago that Mormon groups were posthumously converting holocaust victims so that they could enter heaven. Otherwise, they were condemned for eternity because they had died in ignorance and in sin.
When this was revealed there was an enormous outpouring of revulsion. The overwhelming majority of Jews and non-Jews were shocked and outraged. The Mormon hierarchy called for the practice to end although there is evidence that it continues among some groups.
How interesting to learn that among the ultra-orthodox it was of no importance.
Posted by Disgusted, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 10:31 pm
Eruv is but another creation of man, not too far removed from all other creations including religion and the concept of god. It attests to man's creativity which has no bounds. Unfortunately, unlike creative advances being made in science and technology, which has vastly improved our lives, creations in and about religion have brought untold misery to millions of nonbelievers or believers alike by virtue of their anti-Nature edicts.
I am not saying eruv itself is bad but that it adds to the myths surrounding all religions and justifies conflicts that arise from various groups of men observing their respective edicts but not tolerant of others'.
I am saddened to note how man continues to suffer the lack of real religious freedom available to the rest of the animal kingdom. My fear is that religion will one day do us all in.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 7:24 am
We have to remember the concept of choice in these analogies..The Dec 25th comment is a CHOICE of businesses, not a regulation. Do not get confused. For example, movies and restaurants are often open. Entertainment facilities like Disney are open. Businesses that are closed are closed for the same reason many restaurants are closed Monday nights..because few buy from them on that night. And few buy on Christmas day.
Please, keep it straight between choice, and forced.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 7:27 am
Disgusted: you continue to show the lack of tolerance that you profess you want us all to have. I could easily write about how much misery atheists ( think of all the massacred in USSR and China by atheists) and you would go ballistic. Religion is not what causes the misery, people will invent a way to torture and kill and oppress in the absence of "religion" as an excuse until there are no more people.
Posted by David, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 9:21 am
Many of the above comments illustrate that religious intolerance is rampant today. Clearly the unbelievers who claim their “religion” to be the superior one are leading the pack in the new wave of intolerance. These people are proving specious the argument that religion has fostered so much intolerance. Being intolerant is in fact a human frailty and is not necessarily religious in nature.
How can one claim that a string that is barely visible is imposing on anyone? The courts have clearly never agreed that an eruv is an issue of separation between Church and state. All this talk of an eruv creating a Jewish city is nonsense. Orthodox Jews do not consider the eruv as forming a Jewish town. It is a legal fiction instituted by the Rabbis and nothing more.
Many of the above commenters complain that an eruv is a means for Orthodox Jews to skirt the law. I explained that in most areas the law of not carrying was instituted by the Rabbis and is not biblical in origin. The Rabbis introduced this stringency as a precaution so that one should not carry into a Biblically proscribed area. People are still calling it a loophole even though it’s no concern of theirs.
Posted by constitutional law, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 9:33 am
David: Is it or is it not true that in order for the string to have religiously recognizable effect the City of Palo Alto is required to issue a proclamation that the city, whose limits are to be bounded by the string, is a Jewish city?
If it is not true, then the issue of the string becomes much more of an accomodation. If it is true, then the issue is not the string so much as the proclamation. The city is not affiliated with any other religious belief system.
Bringing the city in to enact a proclamation of this sort seems a much clearer violation of the Establishment Clause than asking for the accomodation of a string, though other might and do differ on this point. The fact that the Supreme Court denied cert in other cases involving eruvs does not necessary require the city of Palo Alto to designate itself a Jewish City. England declared itself a Protestant country, then a Catholic one, etc etc. This is what the founders of the United States were trying to avoid, and it would be helpful if those who say it is "just a technicality" to understand why others find it a slippery slope.
Posted by Moshe-Meir, a resident of another community, on Jun 22, 2007 at 9:44 am
Woa! 'tis a touchy issue in good ole' Palo Alto!
I'll briefly answer some of your comments; time is short.
#1- Unlike other religions, Judaism does not believe that non-Jews are "out" or "dammed". On the contrary, the Gentiles only have 7 commandments (no murder, no stealing, no idolatry, no blasphemy, no sexual immorality, no mistreating animals, and establishing a court system to keep society functioning properly). If the Gentiles obey their 7 commandments, they are as righteous and deserving of reward as the Jews, who have 613 commandments! What a deal!
#2 - You say "making fools of the rest of the population while gaining special privileges denied everyone else". Is putting up a few strings in Palo Alto making fools out of the general population? Is being able to push a stroller or carry a tasty dessert to a friend's house on Shabbat a privilege denied to non-Jews? Think about what you're writing.
#1 - You write "have no desire to inconvenience others for our religious beliefs". Does the presence of an Eruv inconvenience you? How so?
#2 - You write "The problem with the written word is that it is so easy to be misunderstood". This is an excellent point! The answer is that the Torah was given both written (what the gentiles call the "Bible") and oral. The oral part has all the explanations on HOW are the laws in the written Torah are to be implemented. This includes the intricate laws of eruv, how to prepare kosher meat, and much much more. So you see, there are no misunderstandings on Jewish law. As far as other religions are concerned, I respect their right to their beliefs and do not know how they deal with "interpreting" the written word as you put it.
#3 - I respect your "concerns" and will be more than happy to have traffic stop from 2:50 to 3:00 a.m. so you can walk in absolute quiet (I'm just playing along! ;-)
To Irwin G:
I already said that Jews do NOT go to church, so please no "church and state" phrases!
To David Lieberman:
#1- The outrage at the Mormon's "converting" holocaust victims was by Jews who think that it has some kind of validity and are ignorant of their own precepts. For those of us who know that what the Mormons were doing is invalid (from our point of view at least) and who are SECURE in our Torah and our relationship with G-d, it is completely inconsequential. As others have said in this thread: if you do your own thing and it does not affect me "go ahead".
#2- Here you go with the "Ultra-Orthodox" label. Funny how people only use this label; they do not say "semi-orthodox", "medium-orthodox", "orthodox", etc. In this mindset, there is only "reasonable" (ie assimilated) and "ultra-orthodox". Just so that you know, I am not fully observant, but I recognize that our (you're Jewish right? "OUR") laws are true and given by Hashem to us at Mt. Sinai (3 million witnesses! No other religion can claim that!)
#3- How can you generalize from my own opinion that the Mormon issue was of no importance to all the "ultra-orthodox"? Nice extrapolation, from one to millions; wow.
#1- OK so you don't believe in G_d. I am not going to try to convince you here. Maybe over a nice cup of coffee some day.
#2- You write "the rest of the animal kingdom". This is the trap in which atheists fall. Since you don't believe in the human soul, you don't believe that people are holier than animals and therefore no different. From this it's a slippery slope (to use other people's expression in this thread) that leads to burning books and eventually (G-d forbid) to set up gas chambers and crematoria in the open field at the corner of El Camino Real and Page Mill Rd. in order to dispose of the "other animals" who believe in silly things like an eruv.
#3- When people behave according to the moral precepts, we are superior to animals. When we don't follow them, we are WORSE.
You write "If I still lived in Palo Alto, likely I would be protesting by cutting that string after the time it is apparently going to be checked weekly". These are the true colors of "liberals", my friends: INTOLERANCE to the point of doing what I wrote in #2 above. The left has never lived up to the precepts they purport to uphold. Nice going, Jack. Will you beat up a Jew-boy who wears his kippah (head covering) in public next time you see one?
I understand your argument about "forced" or not, and you make sense. What I don't see is how setting up a few wires is "forced" on the Palo Alto population. Big billboard ads have pictures that are offensive to some people, and you could also say that they're being "forced" on the population even if they are private and not public (they are on public display, after all).
I'm very sad to see the intolerance of Palo Altans. What a shame.
Posted by Disgusted, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:09 am
Resident: you are confused. Revolutions are never pretty. You mention Russian and Chinese. They were bloody. What about American and French? Were they not bloody? The driving force for these revolutions were not religion but economy.
What has religion done for earthlings? It did not prevent the slave trade or help free those sold into slavery. People who prayed everyday at the dinner table were enjoying the blood and sweat of these same slaves. Until of course Lincoln came along to do the job that surely shouldn't have been necessary if brainwashed men of religion truly believed in their prayers. Did religion prevent the slaughter of millions of Native Americans? The answer is another resounding No. Most who carried out the slaughters prayed at dinner tables.
These are just starters. Look around the world today and ask yourself what is religion doing for earthlings? You don't have to look far. It's mostly my god against yours but sometimes it's even the same god that is playing havoc, like your neighborhood priests abusing their altar boys.
Anyway, the wise men who wrote the bestselling fictions eons ago were lucky there were only ignorants and illiterates in their time. Anyone attempting similar feats today might see their work enjoy the kind of popularity accorded the likes of Harry Potter, but holy scripture? Never.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:17 am
I found this proclamation on a google search for "Eruv" and "proclamation" -- David, is it pretty standard?
WHEREAS, the Sabbath Laws of Biblical and Talmudic origin prohibit the transport of articles outside the “communal domain” even by hand; and
WHEREAS, the Jewish Community of Overland Park in Johnson County, Kansas has petitioned me for formal recognition of their right to consider themselves a communal domain and for my agreement of their establishment of an Eruv in a certain area of Overland Park designated on the map attached hereto; and
WHEREAS, such recognition does not confer any special property rights to the Jewish Community of Overland Park, but is solely to facilitate their ritual observance of Sabbath laws.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ED EILERT, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF OVERLAND PARK, in Johnson County, Kansas, issue this proclamation in honor of said Jewish Community of Overland Park in Johnson County, Kansas, recognizing their right to consider themselves a communal domain and acceding in the name of the City of Overland Park in Johnson County to the ritual integrity of this domain and designated area of enclosure.
DONE this 1st day of February, 1994.
Ed Eilert, Mayor
City of Overland Park, Kansas
Because if this is the kind of proclamation that has been requested, it's a far cry from proclaiming Palo Alto a Jewish city. All it seems to do is proclaim that the Jewish inhabitants have the right to consider it that for purposes of their eruv. So if this is what we're talking about, it doesn't seem like a very big deal to me.
Can someone clarify or give a proposed proclamation?
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:34 am
For an interesting commentary on the constitutional issue surrounding the creation of an eruv in Tenafly (which included some pretty scary, overt racism by city council members as opposed to the strange mix of opposition here), see:
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:49 am
I don't think that the government is proscribed from recognizing that a certain religion has certain beliefs. That's sort like just a statement of fact, not an endorsement of those beliefs. Isn't the endorsement the problem under the establishment clause (so that the city is proscribed from declaring Palo Alto a Jewsih City), not the acknowledgement? Any constitutional law scholars (I think there's one at Stanford actually who has written a book on Eruvs -- 1999) have any thoughts on this?
Posted by Mary, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:52 am
I am sad that some writers took my earlier comments to be anti-Semitic. They were not meant that way. My only objection to the eruv is the same one I would have for any group wanting to declare Palo Alto a "whatever" city - atheist, vegan, Catholic, blond - any separate and distinct group.
My basic question remains unanswered. Does the approval of the eruv include an official statement that Palo Alto is a Jewish city? Does anyone have an answer?
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:59 am
I would imagine that there is nothing to stop any religion from proclaiming Palo Alto a ________ city. This is what that religion themselves call the city, not what anyone else calls the city. Starbucks could call Palo Alto a Starbucks city if it wanted to, meaning that Starbucks exist in abundance here and if you want a Starbucks its a good place to go.
I think the city could be multi-religion named city. It wouldn't make a blind bit of difference to anyone, just a marketing term.
I believe there are two different places trying to coin the term, Surf City, USA, so that they can market it on their t shirts and postcards, and a legal battle is ensuing as to which has the rights.
Since the jewish community is not trying to make Palo Alto the jewish capital of the world, or market t shirts or postcards calling Palo Alto the jewish city, in any type of exclusive manner, then what they decide to call it should be OK legally. I don't want to see banners proclaiming the fact or welcome signs on the borders, but a bit of nonsense inhouse name calling is fine.
However, if it leads to vandalism, then I am not fine with it. If there are some in our community who wish to spend their Friday afternoons trampling over private or public property to check fishing lines followed by another possible group later in the evening doing the same again just to break the lines, then I am not happy with that. And, although some posters here have doubted that the second will happen, at least one poster has confirmed that he will vandalise the fishing line.
Whatever happens, it will be a wait and see who wins on the perseverence of Friday traipsing over the city situation.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 11:04 am
Mary, I have the same question. From my Google searches of eruv proclamations it looks like all that is required is a proclamation acknowledging what the Jewish beliefs are, acknowledging that as a result of these beliefs they need to symbolically "rent" the utility poles to hang their unbroken line on, and acknowledging that the city is willing to do so as an accomodation to THEIR beliefs. It doesn't seem to require a proclamation that this is a Jewish city. I have a feeling that the statement that this is what the proclamation will do was a misstatement, or not completely accurate.
Enough court cases have talked about the line not being a violation of the Establishment clause that it seems that part of it is not an issue.
I agree with you that I don't want a proclamation that this is an anything city. There was a big brouhaha in which people left the PTA after it proclaimed itself to be in favor of honoring gay marriage (I['m sure I am not describing the resoluteion accurately) a few years back, because they felt the PTA was taking a stand in violation of their religious beliefs and they couldn't participate under those conditions. In the case of the eruv, no one is speaking for anyone else. I think. that should put a lot of people's minds at ease.
And to anyone who thinks, like the Tenafly city council members, that having an eruv will cause more Orthodox Jews to move into the area and that this is a terrible thing, I say, I hope there is no support in Palo alto for that kind of hateful thinking.
Posted by EruvLessPA, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 11:49 am
Imagine a block of houses, adjacent to one another, all peopled with occupants that, owing to their faith, desire to wrap a string or place stones on or around their property line so it meets certain criteria important to their practice of their faith.
Imagine the same situation except that a few of the houses in that block involve families that do not profess the faith of their neighbors who desire to mark/wrap the entire block in a manner that facilitates their meeting the criteria of their faith.
I'd have a serious problem with the latter if I were one of those wrapped along so my neighbors can meet their religious needs. I'd protest. I'd file suit. I'd expect the city and state and country to enforce the laws and my rights to be left to my own and not be wrapped, especially unwillingly, into another's faith.
I expect, and history convincingly confirms, those campaigning for the eruv will be equally vocal and assertive in protecting their rights if they were wrapped into another faith's practice. I supported them then. I'm dismayed they are unable to see they are enforcing on others what they themselves protest(ed) against. Why are they having a difficult time seeing why others have a problem with their eruv?
Posted by SP, a resident of another community, on Jun 22, 2007 at 1:35 pm
"This proclamation recognizes the "Sabbath Laws". That's exactly what the government is proscribed from doing."
The government is not proscribed from recognizing the fact that a religion has laws. It's proscribed from enforcing a particular religion's laws. See New york state kosher law that used to say kosher meant "orthodox version of kosher" but that was struck done so they redid it to basically say that if something is called "kosher" one has to provide a set of answers to questions so the consumer understands what "kosher" means. I can call something "kosher" that's actually not, but from the answers to the questions it will be obvious to the kosher consumer that its not kosher.
Posted by Moshe-Meir, a resident of another community, on Jun 22, 2007 at 1:37 pm
A person is never free. Option #1: We are slaves to our physical desires and do what "feels good" and satisfy our material urges. Option #2: We bond with our spiritual side through observance of the commandments (as I said above, 613 for Jews, only 7 for Gentiles) and achieve transcendence, ie we use the physical world for a higher purpose. In this case we are slaves to the Higher Cause if you want to call it that.
The notion most people have of "religion" is very very far away from what the Torah reality is. It's lengthy to explain but suffice it to say that given the 2 choices above, Option #2 gives you freedom from the physical, material urges and Option #1 gives you a life where you can never fulfill your innermost desires because true happiness is not to be found in purely material pursuits devoid of spirituality. This is no different from any addiction (drugs, gambling, drinking, shopping, watching TV, etc) where the appetite grows and grows but the person is never satisfied (and by definition, never will).
So let's rephrase what you said: "it is a fight for freedom from the shackles of material urges in order to rise above them and achieve a truly MEANINGFUL LIFE".
Posted by Disgusted, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 2:20 pm
Moshe-Meir, the fallacy in your argument lies in your argument that religion is needed for man to find his place. One can feel spirituality without learning from religion, thank you very much. I feel very much tied to Mother Nature. I often feel I am part of this earth, which we all are.
Your argument is further weakened by the reality of life. In the animal kingdom, there isn't a more conniving species than man. If religion could be relied on to bring peace to this earth, then all is forgiven. But there is no denying that man is always finding ways to cheat others, steal from others, put down others, destroy others. The same man, of course, probably has his religion. He probably prays to his god from time to time. At the end of the day, however, the basic animal instinct to survive, at the expense of others if necessary, takes hold.
Believe me, god is no more or no less than Mother Nature. Respect Mother Nature and all its creations, and ye shall find spirituality. Nothing else is needed.
Posted by Danny, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 2:40 pm
Disgusted -- I agree with you wholeheartedly. Religion, I feel, is actually more divisive than anything else. "Believe what we believe or you will go to hell!" Please. Isn't it as simple as treating others -- including all life (animals, trees, etc.) -- with the same respect that you yourself would like to be treated? Why does religion have to make things more complicated than "be good to others"?
I do wish you had identified yourself differently. "Intelligent" would have been more appropriate.
Posted by Rod, a resident of the Monroe Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 3:37 pm
"Believe me, god is no more or no less than Mother Nature. Respect Mother Nature and all its creations, and ye shall find spirituality. Nothing else is needed."
It is one thing to respect all or the 'nature' that is all, but when one needs to destroy that 'other' thing in order to eat it, that is also a respect of Mother Nature. You see, Mother can be a bitch. In fact she likes it that way, otherwise she would have designed it differently.
The human ego blocks us from the oceanic love of the oneness that is spirituality. But that same ego allows us humans to survive and pass on our DNA. It is a contradiction, or so it seems. Various religious traditions have been fightling with this basic issue for many centuries. The non-spiritual types just decided to slaughter each other for...hmmm...what?
Give the Bhagavad Gita a try. It deals with such issues. BTW, I am not a Hindu.
Posted by jayway, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 4:41 pm
i dunno...i'm kinda bummed out...but i knew this day would come...
i don't think it's appropriate for our city to have to consider or decide on this matter...
i'm all for people choosing to live by the religious laws that they choose and find easier ways to live by them, but i'd rather that my freedom to "be" here in Palo Alto wasn't "roped in" with that choice...
Posted by David, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 5:10 pm
Just to clarify there is no need according to Jewish law for any proclamation. All the proclamations issued by certain cities are just formalities. An eruv does not create a Jewish city, this is just nonsense.
Posted by StopThisNow, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 5:19 pm
It appears this eruv issue only matters to a vocal few within the Jewish community. I ask them and all others of the Jewish community, and all others, to ask yourself this question:
If something like the eruv was initiated by adherents of another faith/practice (take your pick: from Muslims to ...Pentecostal Evangelists) and the city implemented it encircling your homes and neighborhood, would you accept it?
There's a compendium of cases and precedents where the people (with the Jews rightly in the lead) fought against such attempts and compelled cities and states to ensure faiths and practices are kept indoors. All prior evidence is that you'd not accept it, you'd fight it, and rightly so.
Why do you permit this to slip through now? Please stand up and speak out against it. Please speak for others that are rightly concerned about the eruv. They need your support. Your support, consistent with your past positions on such matters, will ensure you'll be supported later if such matters arise that affect you. Conversely, your silence will dilute support for you later, should you need it.
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 5:38 pm
Stop This Now--feel free to fight this--I suggest a lawsuit (since that is the "Palo Alto way" when things don;t go the way you planned).
This has gone before the courts before and has been upheld--there are eruvs in countless cities across the USA.
It is a symbolic peace of string--that's it. You will not even know that it is there. No one is declaring palo alto a jewish city--no one is taking your home or any of the other ridiculous charges being made in this thread.
It is really interesting to hear the "tolerant" palo altans expressing their views on this matter.
Even more enjoyable would be to bring it before the City Council and force them to vote on it.
Posted by Ann, a resident of Menlo Park, on Jun 22, 2007 at 6:10 pm
To Elissa, of Stanford.
You're right! We are not the Taliban. That I know of, our local government and its local people are not suppressing the Orthodox Jewish women (or other Orthodox Jews) from leaving their homes on the Sabbath. It is the belief or imposition of their own religioun that does so, and they (Orthodox Jews) are expecting the government to steer them clear of their own restrictions.
If I was a woman who deemed myself liberated because I could suddenly walk on the Sabbath because a symbolic piece of twine was established, I would consider myself under some mighty delusion. That is liberation. That is manipulation.
. . . and this in a town that doesn't even have decent storm drains for real rains that fall during real storms and cause real damage. I don't put down religion per se. If anything, I'm "pro" religion, but if Palo Alto considers itself enlightened because it will now have an eruv, I differ strongly with their definition of enlightenment.
Posted by StopThisNow, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:04 pm
Marvin, if it's just a symbolic piece of string why don't you and the Orthodox do away with it instead of imposing it on the rest of us and asking us to deal with it? The onus of pretending it's there is easier for you and others than to impose it and then insist we pretend we don't even know it is there.
Please don't misrepresent as "countless" the cities across the USA that okayed eruvs. They are few and can be enumerated unless you have an agenda to mislead others. For balance please also mention the various other cities where eruvs were proposed and found unacceptable.
I have long admired and respected the Jewish community for their contributions to the world I live in, their empathy and courage to stand up against wrong. I'm afraid you don't see how this issue demands certain privileges special for the Jewish community (or a subsect of it) and what a slippery slope that puts all of us on.
Your messages come across as taunts and dares to those that differ with you and, as does Moshe-Meir's as well, they belittle the intelligence and humanity of others. Perhaps one day you will meet someone that will take you up on them. And that day will be one where I will not step up to support the Jewish community as I have done all these years. With this issue the local Orthodox are losing supporters and I speak for several others as well.
Posted by Dont-Balkanize-PaloAlto, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:09 pm
OK, here is my problem with this eruv.
The advocate claim that it is just a piece of string on a utility pole, and that they will maintain, inspect and repair it. But the problem is in order to maintain, inspect and repair it someone is going to have to walk on to someone else's private property and climb up that pole.
I have a utility pole I my back yard with an easement for the Palo Alto Utility company. The utility company people can ask to enter my private property because the govenment has granted them an easement. I have the right to deny anyone else access to my private property. If I don't want some fishing wire in my backyard that does nothing then without a permission granted by the government they cannot be there.
THAT IS WERE I THINK THIS VIOLATES THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.
The government by granting a "religious easement" - i.e. permission for strangers to enter your property without your consent - is in fact taking sides and "chosing" which religion are the preferred.
This eruv is for basicly 300 families in a city of about 56,000 people. If we assume that is about 1,000 people, then 56 other groups could and should be able to ask for thier own "religion easement".
IF someone wants to practice their religion fine by me. Just don't involve other people's property in you "symbolic walls"/"magic fishing wire" or what ever you would call it.
Posted by A Boomer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2007 at 6:46 am
How long will it be before the, due malicious vandalism or other reasons, becomes "broken?" What does such an incident imply for those who wish to move freely as a result of the eruv, now "broken?" How will it get repaired?
This whole thing seems to be inviting trouble and unintended consequences that will create ill will among people who otherwise would just go about their business. I know little about the traditions that affect the behavior the Jews requesting this eruv, but the whole thing is starting to have a "Rube Goldberg" aspect to it, fixing one problem by creating another problem as big or bigger than the original one.
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2007 at 8:19 am
StopThisNow--I am serious--in order to stop the eruv, I believe that you will have to sue. the city attorney, according to the article, has said thatthe city should allow the eruv. the courts in the Tenafly case has ruled that eruvs must be allowed--so I am not sure which cities have found eruvs to be unacceptable--butthe courts have found them acceptable.
Others are reading more into this than is necessary--people will not be parading through your private property every friday night--maybe those people who think this is an issue should first get in touch with those owners of the properties they are so concerned about. maybe the owners woul dnot have a problem.
regarding the vandalism issue--so if someone starts to vandalize a church--then the church should be shut down so that it will no longer invite trouble and unintended consequences that will create ill will among people who otherwise would just go about their business. "
I am really surprised the people in PA are really bringing up the vandilization issue--makes me wonder how some people will act with regard to this eruv issue.
Posted by the eruv won't hurt you, a resident of Menlo Park, on Jun 23, 2007 at 8:22 am
I think the real issue here is that a small group of Jews managed to outwit the local anti-Semites and kneejerk naysayers. You weren't able to get in your fair share of whining or take up a lot of airtime at council meetings. Boo hoo.
Palo Alto zoning allows religious groups to build and operate churches, temples, and synagogues within its border. If you think that's okay--if you're not bothered by the fact that you live in a city that explicitly allows religious groups to meet within its borders--then why are you bothered by the existence of twine that you will never notice, that will cost you nothing, that will not encroach on your property, and that will be maintained by a private organization?
The eruv's sole function is to make Palo Alto a walled city, at least symbolically. Since the Palo Alto mindset has long been one of separateness and superiority, seems as though most of you would be just fine with that concept. Where's the problem?
Posted by TheCommunity, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2007 at 8:41 am
It's simply preposterous that some eruv supporters are calling "intolerant" those against eruvs. What next? a canard of anti-semitism and more just because we don't agree?
Since the 300-family strong eruvers say it's just a string let them imagine "just a string" encircling what they want encircled. Doing so does not require anything of the rest of the 56000-strong community. It also respects those that don't agree with the eruv. That is a vastly superior solution than laying out a string that with its physical presence (and now that we are aware of it) reminds always the 56000-strong community of its existence and religious connotations and then asking us to treat it as "just a string."
Posted by Logical, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2007 at 9:11 am
Re: Utility Poles, a quote from the original article:
"His original proposal in 1999 raised safety concerns because it suggested stringing twine along some of the city's utility poles.
Through "a lot of persistent work on its behalf," Klugman said, Feldman and Palo Alto Community Eruv, Inc. (PACE) submitted a new plan in 2004 that would not need to use city utility poles for twine to be linked around Palo Alto, according to a staff report."
Though it's not explicitly stated, it implied that the 2004 non-utility pole plan would be used.
However, if utility poles will be used, I have a concern, although not the ones expressed here. Most utility poles in Palo Alto are "joint use" poles. Both AT&T and Comcast have stakes in them. Maintenance and usage are by negotiated agreements. Those agreements would have to be re-negotiated, with legal costs accruing to all, and that's assuming AT&T and Comcast would go along with the idea at all.
Posted by eruv won't hurt you, a resident of Menlo Park, on Jun 23, 2007 at 10:34 am
The eruv poles are privately owned and maintained, but will not be on private property. Can't believe the wild scenarios some of you concoct! I lived in PA for a number of years, and I am really appreciating the relative apathy of Menlo Parkers.
Now I'm wondering: how do you folks feel about church bells? Should those be allowed? They do represent and reflect the spirituality of a specific religion, and, unlike the eruv, they are intrusive. In fact, you might even call them a form of noise pollution. Doesn't someone out there want to start a Ban the Bells campaign?
Posted by Trent, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2007 at 11:20 am
While I'm not Orthodox, so the Eruv won't impact me, I'm also thrilled. Knowing it's there will make seeing the Christmas (er, excuse me, "holiday") decorations on public streets a little more bearable. Hooray!
Posted by Ben, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2007 at 8:33 pm
First of all, I don’t think any of the strings would be erected on private property. Second, if it would be strung through private property they would need permission according to Jewish law, so this issue only concerns those allowing it on their property.
Posted by Dont-Balkanize-PaloAlto, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 8:19 am
We live along the route for the 1999 plan using utility poles.
I've tried to find information about the path for the current plan, but cannot find it. Are they hiding it? You would think on this long thread that someone could have posted it by now. How can we know without access to the information.
Posted by First-Amendment-Respecter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 10:04 am
> "the Mormons microfilm civil records all over the world and
> posthumously "convert" deceased people to their religion
I would be interested in a source for this comment.
The Mormons do microfilm civil records from all over the world, but they use this information for other purposes. The Mormons have for a very long time now made this information available to the public in local, Family History Centers. Lately, this information is on-line:
Posted by SR, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 10:24 am
I am sad to see so many angry reactions to the issue of the eruv.
My understanding is that all those whose properties will be directly affected by the set up of the eruv have already agreed to construct it.
On the issue of symbolism: The string symbolizes a wall. The wall can have religious significance for the Jewish people, with the permission of property owners. The string is not a Jewish symbol.
On the comparison to church bells: I find church bells a far more imposing religious activity than the erection of small pieces of string at various points around Palo Alto. And yet if the church bells didn't violate a noise ordinance of some sort, why should they bother me just because they are meaningful to someone else?
Meaning is something we each claim for ourselves. To most Palo Altans the string is meaningless. To Orthodox Jews the string means pushing your baby around in a stroller on a warm and quiet Palo Alto Saturday afternoon.
What is not relevant: The Jewish view on science or our opinion on religion. That is none of anybody's business. I happen to be a big-bang believing eruv-law follower. There is no conflict and no relationship to the issue of church and state, only to anti-Semitism.
What is also not relevant: The Rabbi's personal life.
And when the day comes that an group from any organized religion in Palo Alto requests that the eruv be taken down for their own religious reasons, I will be the first to destroy it.
Until then the only people imposing will be those refusing to help ease the difficulties of their neighbors.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 10:37 am
Re the difference between Church bells and Eruv.
Eruv is a piece of string erected on poles which could cause problems, e.g. if they break they could dangle and cause potential hazards, they could harbour dirt, disease, trash, etc., various animal life habitats altered, etc. etc. None of these are really worth making a stand on, but they exist nonetheless.
Church bells, of which I don't hear any in my neighborhood, would do none of the above. Yes, they could be called noise pollution, and at 6.00 a.m. or other odd times, or at practice sessions, or on the hour every hour, or for hours at times, these could be called annoying. However, none of these apply in Palo Alto (as far as I know.) I am told that the bells in Hoover Tower are only rung about twice a year!! Usually, church bells are melodious and often enjoyed by many people, regardless of religion, for their melody and tranquil ambience. Traditionally, before the electronic age, they were used as time keeping and for giving notification of news to the surrounding area. In the time of earthquake or other disaster, a system of church bells could be used to this end again.
I do not think therefore that it is a good idea to like the two together. Church bells are a completely different thing from eruv and trying to use them in the same argument is like comparing apples to dogs. No comparison.
Posted by EruvLessPA, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 10:58 am
SR: I commend you for the tone of your posting. I hope you'd find this response equally worthy of your attention. Perhaps you'd take the time to see the alternate point of view--much as I have taken the time to see your's--and respond in this forum.
Several eruv-ers have said it's "just a string." Questions were asked before and I echo them again: if it's just a string, why is it difficult for 300 families to imagine a string encircling what they want encircled instead of imposing that string on the rest of the populace and demanding they treat it as just a string?
As for why I and others find it difficult to accept that string in our midst, you have answered it quite well yourself, thank you. "The string symbolizes a wall. The wall HAS religious significance for the Jewish people.
Would you like it if the Zoroasters, for whom certain items symbolize something that has religious significance, place those items in the public space? How about if the Hindus, the Jains, the Buddhists, and so on each step up to insist items that have religious significance for them be placed along with the eruv? Experience shows the Jewish community will simply find it unacceptable and will raise a din and clamor over it. You know what, I'd agree with them and join them in that din and clamor as I have in the past.
Posted by EruvLessPA, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 11:32 am
"The string symbolizes a wall. The wall can have religious significance for the Jewish people, with the permission of property owners. The string is not a Jewish symbol."
How can something symbolize something without being a symbol?
The string symbolizes a wall (for the Orthodox Jews) and is a symbol with religious significance (for the Orthodox Jews). As it has religious significance, ergo, it simply has no place in the public space in America. As with religion and matters religious and items with religious significance, you can have it in your private spaces (home, places of worship, etc.) and I have no problems with that. Please don't bring it out and push it into my life.
Posted by First-Amendment-Respecter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 11:40 am
About the “Church Bell” thing ..
That is not a problem in Palo Alto, although it probably would take a little calling around to find out why the Christian Churches do not ring their Church Bells. My guess is that they recognize that there is no reason to do so, and with the high residential density where the Churches are located that the bells would annoy everyone—and there would soon be complaints lodged with the City. Moreover, it's my guess that if a Christian Church did ring its bells to the annoyance of the neighbors, it very likely that they would cease the practice if requested to do so.
As pointed above, most people have clocks, and don’t need the Church Bells to be alerted for services.
However, with the increase of Muslim mosques in American cities, the “Call to Prayer” which is being electronically blasted out into local communities where the mosques are located has brought a lot of tension between Muslims and non-Muslims in those communities where mosques are being erected.
If Palo Alto’s Orthodox Jews claim that the City Government has a legal obligation to accommodate their religious practices, then will they object to the “Call to Prayer” when a mosque is built in their neighborhood, or will they recognize that this group has a "right of accommodation" too?
There are many deep First Amendment issues here. The Orthodox trivialize the matter with their “talking points” about “string”.
Posted by Rajiv, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 11:43 am
I'm happy this finally got done quietly after the outlandish ruckus a few years ago. It's great that our fellow Jewish citizens can enjoy their Sabbath in peace. Palo Alto is and always should be a tolerant place for people of all faiths.
Posted by David Lieberman, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 11:54 am
"I'm happy this finally got done quietly after the outlandish ruckus a few years ago. It's great that our fellow Jewish citizens can enjoy their Sabbath in peace."
Rajiv, the overwhelming majority of "our fellow Jewish citizens" of whom I am one, were perfectly capable of enjoying their Sabbath in peace without an eruv. It is precisely this eruv campaign that is disturbing their peace.
Posted by EruvLessPA, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 12:22 pm
I second David Lieberman, and as a Jew am perturbed the faith being hijacked by the narrow policies of the Orthodox.
Rajiv, please don't conflate the demands of the Orthodox Jews as that of the general Jewish community. If you read up on what happenied in Jerusalem just a few days ago you'd learn the tolerance of the Orthodox rarely extends beyond their own and their diatribes and intolerance particularly target the gays, lesbians, and others.
A minority (300 families, give or take a few) can't assume they speak for the entire Jewish population in Palo Alto. Also, their requirements and demands and arguments must not be mistaken as if they also represent the "fellow Jewish citizens" that vastly outnumber them in this city (and elsewhere.)
To David Lieberman--I think your comments regarding the number of children the rabbi has had is uncalled for--that is a private matter and has nothing to do with the eruv issue.
By the way were you misquoted in the Mercury News story (" David Lieberman, a retired engineering supervisor, was originally against the eruv but now says he doesn't object as long as Palo Alto isn't officially endorsing any religion."). It sounds like you are ibjecting in this forum.
BTW there is no eruv "campaign"-this issue has been settled, apparently, by negotiations between the eruv committee and the various agenices and private homeowners regarding placement of the eruv. In addition recent court rulings appear to support the placement of an eruv in this city--as has been done in 100+ cities across the US.
The orthodox are not forcing their views on anyone--those that hold with an eruv will have it--those that do not believe in an eruv are free, as they were in pre-eruv days to enjoy the sabbath as they see fit. No one's faith i sbeing "hijacked" by anyone.
Isuggest to David and EruvLessPA that if they still have problems they file a lawsuit.
Posted by SR, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 1:04 pm
Mostly directed to EruvLessPA: (It's a long, I apologize in advance...)
On the "why" issue:
"if it's just a string, why is it difficult for 300 families to imagine a string encircling what they want encircled instead of imposing that string on the rest of the populace and demanding they treat it as just a string?"
I'm not sure I understand you completely. What is the alternative for the current plan? An eruv is constructed in harmony with the surrounding Jewish or non-Jewish community in order to make the life of Orthodox Jews easier. It can be viewed as a convenient loophole within Jewish law, but as others mentioned above, rabbis imposed many harsh rules and as many "loopholes" to make comfortableliving possible. Only with the consent of the people whose property is being used can the area within the border built by the eruv be declared a kosher eruv. From what I remember after the plan was knocked down in 1999 the Jewish community tried to discuss options of covering a smaller area by having the border go through private houses. I'm not sure what the final plan is right now.
Also keep in mind that most of the eruv is already in place, there are just small places along creeks and walls that must be connected that are city property and thus require the city's approval. (Nothing dangerous or harmful, and most definitely less trouble than church bells.) Any concerns over maintenance should be minor. The article above makes it sound like those putting up the eruv will provide maintenance themselves, and the city of Palo Alto will not be charged for the construction or maintenance in any way. (But I might be wrong? Correct me please.)
"Would you like it if the Zoroasters, for whom certain items symbolize something that has religious significance, place those items in the public space? How about if the Hindus, the Jains, the Buddhists, and so on each step up to insist items that have religious significance for them be placed along with the eruv? Experience shows the Jewish community will simply find it unacceptable and will raise a din and clamor over it."
I'm not sure what you are referring to here...
Personally I can't imagine trying to stop someone in a similar situation. I'm trying to think of some kind of analogy that might fit, in terms of the insignicance to the public. (A statue of the Buddah is never without religious or spiritual significance, a string is.)
And back to symbolism:
I tried to be as careful as I could with the symbolism issue. You may have slightly misunderstood. The wall CAN HAVE religious significance--FOR JEWS (it does not necessarily have to have this significance). I can't imagine it would ever have that kind of religious significance for the non-Jewish residence of Palo Alto. Once an eruv is "activated" after receiving the necessary agreement (in declaration form, or whatever form it is) it becomes significant. If I hang up strings all around Palo Alto I still won't have an eruv, and the strings will still hold no meaning for me. It is the decision of the city, ultimately, that has the religious significance, and I can understand where the concerns of religious involvement come from, but then how does it differ from the "Local Holidays" that take place on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur? This is just another case in which the city is respecting the various traditions of its residents. I'm sure plenty of parents are quite frustrated by the holidays, especially when unlike American holidays, they do not always conveniently fall on a Monday... Isn't that more bothersome than seeing a pinch of wire between a pole by a creek and a wall nearby? But don't we see plenty of logic in having the local holidays, because of the degree to which the Jewish kids would be affected? Ultimately they ARE choosing to practice their religion and choosing to miss school, just as some (fewer) Jews choose not to carry on the Sabbath. How is the eruv much different, a small sacrifice to greatly improve the comfort of others?
And a not-very-good analogy: A certain religious group complete with ridiculous rules about clothing styles and food choices appeals to the Palo Alto public with a request. Their claim is that they are entirely unable to play frisbee on fields with trees that are unmarked with the letter "W". They request that certain trees in certain parks of Palo Alto be marked with small W's so that they can enjoy the wonderful game of frisbee just like their neighbors. Yes, they could live without it. It would just suck. A lot. So sure, there is some concern for the trees, but nobody would really argue for the tree's safety on that issue. And in the end, I don't really care if there's a W carved into every tree I see. You see initials carved into trees all the time. They care, not me. The question is, do I respect their beliefs enough to say, yes, for me this is stupid and ridiculous, but it doesn't hurt me and I'll make them that much happier for the frisbee playing? Or do I choose to find the W's imposing in some manner. Because just like the no-frisbee rules they choose to follow, I can choose to be intimidated by whatever I like.
I would also not compare the Orthodox Jewish community of Palo Alto to the Orthodox Jews protesting against the gay pride parade, mostly because I am very familiar with the Orthodox Jewish community in Palo Alto and I happened to walk right through those groups in Jerusalem on Thursday. And even while I have infinitely more respect for the Jews of Palo Alto by their mere lack of homophobia, I still have to say that I was surprised at the relatively mellow sign-holding and shouting I saw. If they feel that their rights as residents of Jerusalem were being ignored then let them protest! I find it an appropriate democratic response.
Just as you ask Rajiv not to generalize the Jews of Palo Alto, I ask you not to generalize the Orthodox Jews of the world.
Posted by EruvLessPA, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 3:03 pm
SR, I find it good that at least we are able to exchange opinions and explore where we disagree or agree. Thank you for your time and attention in responding to my previous.
Unfortunately I find myself quite unconvinced still. The points you advanced simply lack coherence or consistency. HEre's an example.
You say: "(A statue of the Buddah is never without religious or spiritual significance, a string is.)"
The religious or spiritual significance is what is accorded an object, not something innate to the object. So a Buddha statue might have no religious connotation to someone unexposed to Buddhism or the Buddha. You might want to confirm that by showing an tribal or aboriginal native the statue and noting his reaction.
Similarly a string would have no connotation to me either except that in this case, I'm already conditioned to the knowledge the string being strung around my neighborhood has religious significance and I want not part of that. Mind you, I respect the tradition and the faith and the practices but just insist that what's private and personal remain private and personal and not infringe upon the public space.
Second, your exemplar (and it's just an example so let's not get carried away with this) group demanding trees be marked so they can play frisbee would be denied those rights for those trees are public property and can't be marked by any one community. If that group wants to reserve a park for certain times of the day/week and establish a boundary and take it down after play, that's ok. Apply that same logic to the eruv, please, and I'll be fine with it.
More to the point, even if those frisbee types are able to get their way that'd only pave the way for every other group to advance their requirements. And that would only mean a future where all the trees are marked, cobwebs of string to wade through, church bells ringing, mosques blaring five times a day, and so on. Who in the right mind would want that?
Your comment about the conduct of the Orthodox in Jerusalem this past week is vastly at odds with published news reports and what I heard from other visitors to the city. Perhaps your tolerance level for the excesses of the Orthodox is higher?
In summary, I remain unconvinced about the need and place for an eruv in this town. I think it sets a very dangerous precedent and I'd welcome any initiative to keep Palo Alto eruvless.
Posted by Dont-Balkanize-PaloAlto, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 3:27 pm
I'm rather annoyed with those people trying to paint anyone against this eruv as anti-semitic.
The is about those with extreme views and 2% of the population using other people's private property and public property as part of their religion. I'm against this because if we allow this group to do it then we need to allow other groups that same right.
Those eruv supports had better ask themselves how they would feel if a (fundamentalist/orthodox/extremist) group of a different religion were to ask for the same thing how they would feel about it.
If fine with all the religions, but they need to practice their religion on their own private property, not mine.
The extremist groups divide the world into tribes/groups. Don't carve Palo Alto into little enclaves petitioning the govt for special favors for themselves.
Posted by Ben, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 4:05 pm
EruvLessPA – You remain unconvinced because you are not seeking the truth. This whole argument is absurd. You would not know that there is an eruv unless it was pointed out to you. No a sting does not express any religious symbolism even to Orthodox Jews. An eruv represents a fictional wall which allows an Orthodox Jew to carry on Shabbos. A wall is not a religious symbol. There is no issue with private property since if the string crossed over private property they would have to seek permission to place the string there. Most of the strings would be placed on utility poles and get lost in the thicket of wires and no one would know the difference. Who are you to argue that there is no need for the eruv. The courts do not agree with all your arguments. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 4:15 pm
I didn;t realize that anyone on this thread introduced the idea that people against the eruv were "anti-semetic".
As I understood it, the rabbi has talked to people regarding the use of thier private property and they are okay with it--he has also spoken with the various agenicies and has botten their permission--I am not sure what the problem is. The cty attorney has stated that it is okay to have an eruv.
To Dont-Balkanize-PaloAlto and EruvLessPA--as I have stated before, I think that you need to go to court on this issue--I think you will then get the answer--either the court will agree with you and forbid the eruv in PA or it will side with the city and allow the eruv (precendence has it that the eruv will win--see links to tenafly case for example).
I think you need to act fast since, based on the Weekly story, the permit has been granted and the gaps in the eruv will be erected very soon.
My bet is that the eruv will be erected and the fact that it exists will be forgotten by most residents of PA
Posted by Secular Palo Altan, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 4:34 pm
> Not sure why you are so deeply offende and frightened by a
> piece of string.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
It is truly offensive for a secular government to become involved with a religion that inflicts ‘difficulties’ and irrational behaviors on those that practice such religions.
It’s not the string, it’s the belief in that fact that somehow a Rabbi (or Holy Man) can so control your life that you will act irrationally. As posted above, the ancestors of the Orthodox Jews are documented as killing one of their own for ‘carrying’ wood to build a fire for his family on a prescribed day of the week. The Torah records this in Deuteronomy (see previous posting). This ‘no carrying’ thing is clearly linked to this event . There is no reference to the word ‘Eruv’ in the Torah (the old Testiment), being a device of the Rabbis. If the Rabbis can create the idea of ‘Eruv’ then the Rabbis can modify it. There is nothing in the Torah (Old Testament) that gives Rabbis the power of their deity on earth.
It is also the ‘blending’ of public and private property. The City should NEVER be involved in taking anything that is ‘private’ and giving it to any religious group. Not to mention the use of public property for any religious activity that is permanent. (Certainly allowing a religious group to use a public space for a temporary purpose should not be denied.)
This Rabbinic restriction of people’s lives is reprehensible. The City, unfortunately, can not comment on these practices. It can only comply with the current interpretation of the law. This is one of those situations that cries out for a trip to the Supreme Court.
Posted by Dont-Balkanize-PaloAlto, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 4:40 pm
>> Yes, these arguments do smack of anti-Semitism just look at the
>> comment from David Lieberman regarding the amount of children
>> the Rabbi has.
No Ben, I'm not going to let you get away with that. This is about those with extremist agenda. And that comment is about extremists. You really don't think all Jewish people have six kids do you? Or do you count only Orthodox people as being Jewish?
Your statement speaks exactly to my point. Those people with Orthodox/fundamentalist/extremist views see this world as divided to small little enclaves (i.e. us vs. them) and it is those extremist view points that ultimately lead to the strife and war in this world.
I'm against this eruv because if an Orthodox Jewish group can have it, then so can a fundamentalist Christian group, or a 7th day advocate. Where would it stop?
Utility poles are for utilities.
Churches/temples/mosques are for religion. Keep them separate.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 4:42 pm
I wonder if the eruv will be disclosed on property deeds and when private property is sold, whether full disclosure will be made to new owners. In fact, I wonder if once a bid is accepted if it could be grounds for the new owners to renounce the offer. If so, would this now be something that should be put on all realtors flyers, i.e. whether there in an eruv on the property or not.
I can see the flyer. 5 bdrms, 2 1/2 baths, updated ktchn, eruv strung along back fence!!!!
Posted by Dont-Balkanize-PaloAlto, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 5:46 pm
Another issue is the Palo Alto utilities would eventually like to "underground" the utilities. Are we now going to have an entrenched group preventing a practical improvement to the utilities in this city because of "religious concerns".
If this agreement is for 99 years, is Palo Alto blocked from projects that alter the route or underground those cables? Are we going to open a Pandora's box where what should be strictly an engineering concern up to religious dogma of a small extremist group? In a democratic society we have a right to ask these questions.
To answer these concerns we really need to see the route, but I've not been able to find it yet. Is it available? If not why not? Do we still live in a democracy here?
Posted by EruvLess, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 6:02 pm
I regret that it has come to pass that a difference of opinion over the place of an eruv in a multicultural, secular environment is reframed by supporters of the eruv as "anti-semitism" and "intolerance" and such.
I find that simply reprehensible and unconscionable, and it erodes the respect, regard , and admiration I've had so far for the Jewish tradition and faith and the Jewish people.
As often happens, it's only extremists that can speak to extremists. Unfortunately I don't have what it'd take to be part of that and so I'd excuse myself from this. The moderate Jews can speak out to head off what seems a bad precedent. Alternately we can all wait for a time when the bigoted will get from other bigoted what they well deserve.
Posted by eruv won't hurt you, a resident of Menlo Park, on Jun 24, 2007 at 8:23 pm
Some of you seem to have reading comprehension issues.
The eruv is not using any utility poles. That was the old plan. And if you spend a moment thinking about the eruv concept, you will realize that the poles will not abut private property.
The mad rants about the slippery slope are borderline absurd. For starters, there aren't any other religious groups requesting similar permits from the city, not as far as anyone knows. But even if they were, why would anyone care? If the Frisbeetarians want to carve a harmless and essentially invisible letter in a tree, why not let them? If the Mormons ask to add our names to their database so they can pray for us, more power to them. Nor would I object if someone wanted to spray a few drops of holy water on the sidewalks.
I don't personally buy into any of it, but even the most atheistic among you should recognize the rights of others to adhere to their own beliefs.
Posted by Ben, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 9:15 pm
The absurdity is getting worse. I love these liberal minded atheists pontificating about the terrible oppression that Orthodoxy inflicts on its adherents. So let me get this straight if someone living in this wonderful country chooses to follow Orthodox dogma he or she needs to be protected by these atheists? Who are they trying to protect people who made up their own mind? It’s ironic that normally they would argue that the women are being suppressed, but regarding eruvin this argument is specious since men are included in this prohibition as well. Now they are out to protect us from ourselves. The fact is there is no legal reason to object to an eruv. Only people with agendas are creating a problem.
Posted by SP, a resident of another community, on Jun 24, 2007 at 10:32 pm
there's a fundamental difference. The Eruv chooses fishing line to be visually nearly invisible. The Eruv attempts to be as inconspicuous as possible. If other groups wanted to do something that was basically inconspicuous it be a similiar situations. In your cases, that's not the case. If someone couldn't see the rainbow color or the green then it be similar.
But even if they were inconspicuous it be a different situation. If the Eruv string was to symbolize jewish pride it be the same exact story, but it has nothing to do with jewish pride. But in fact, palo alto public schools do such a thing with supporting groups such as the gay-straight alliance. Personally, I think its ok for Palo Alto to support those groups as well as allow the eruv to be built.
Posted by Dont-Balkanize-PaloAlto, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 10:51 pm
>> there's a fundamental difference.
OK, change my post slightly, so it is rainbow tinted or green tinted wire. Now it "the symbolic" wall is exactly the same.
>> But even if they were inconspicuous it be a different situation.
Really? How? So are you saying you would deny the request of the other groups?
The groups you mention all meet at specific locations and times. They are not asking the government to place permanent (for 99 years) items on utility poles? Nor are they asking the Palo Alto city council to declare Palo Alto a "gay" city nor a "Palestinian city", as some of the previous eruv situations have done.
I've got no problem with any of these groups doing things on their own property. But when you start placing permanent items on utility poles then you are opening a Pandora's box.
Posted by Ben, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 11:21 pm
The concept of an eruv does not require it to be conspicuous because it’s not a statement of pride or a religious symbol. There is no need for the area to be called a Jewish City. Please stop repeating this ridiculous claim. There is no need for a proclamation either.
Posted by SP, a resident of another community, on Jun 25, 2007 at 6:54 am
in regards to "symbolic walls" of other groups. I don't think palo alto wants to get in the business of supporting political statements. The eruv isn't a political statement or religious statement.
What's the test of a political/religious statement?
If the people performing the action care that other people know about it, i.e. they publicize it or have others publicize it for them. If they do care, then it's a public statement and palo alto shouldn't be supporting it, if they don't care and it's unobtrusive and no skin of anyone's back, they should support it to help their citizens.
In regards to the eruv, the jews don't care if anyone else knows about it the eruv. It doesn't impact it. No one else could know about it beyond the users who would depend on its existence and those users would be happy. Do you think the same would be true for those symbolic wall people you mentioned, I personally don't.
Posted by Puzzled, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 6:57 am
Now .. this has been approved. The plans may be making their way to the contractors to do the work, bids may be coming in ..
So, is this thread going to continue with the regular "all talk but no action?". This is what happens to most of the controversial topics in Palo Alto. People feel free to blast the topic on Townsquare forums and then what - nothing? It haunts these forums (Mandarin immersion) and eventually gets implemented ..
What about some action guys? Arrange a meeting with the city - make your voices heard!
Posted by eruv won't hurt you, a resident of Menlo Park, on Jun 25, 2007 at 7:05 am
From the OP article:
"Through "a lot of persistent work on its behalf," Klugman said, Feldman and Palo Alto Community Eruv, Inc. (PACE) submitted a new plan in 2004 that would not need to use city utility poles for twine to be linked around Palo Alto, according to a staff report."
No utility poles.
Would I personally object to Palestinians asking to place green twine on poles? Yes, because it's not part of their tradition and because it's hard to imagine any reason for them to do so other than to mock the eruv. I don't think it's the city's role to facilitate expression of hostilities. But if any organized group asks permission to use public land to express their culture/tradition, and if that use has no impact on me or anyone else? Sure, go for it.
Every May Day, dancers congregate at the baylands before dawn to greet the sunrise. They're not a religious group, but let's say they were. Would you all be offended if the city allowed them to perform a traditional dance at 5 a.m.? If the answer to that question is no, then why protest the eruv? If the answer is yes, then you have serious bigotry issues.
Posted by Ben, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 8:43 am
No, according to Jewish law proclamations are never an integral part of the establishment of an eruv. Most eruvin try to use as many existing structures as possible in order to minimize the amount of construction needed. I guess that they figured out a way that they do not even have to use utility poles. In any case, if the utility companies allow the use of their poles for an eruv and legally there is no objection as well why is it anyone’s business?
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 10:00 am
Personally, I have viewed some wonderful religious statues which are majestic and beautiful, all over the world. I do not find them offensive, rather wonderful works of art that add to the beauty and charm of wherever, and make me think of my own private thoughts in a personal way. These works of art bring other tourists to the area and do much for the city in which they are situated taking away nothing of their religious value to whichever religion they belong.
Here in Palo Alto, we have ugly public works of art with no rhyme or reason. For example, the egg in Lytton Plaza, the monstrosity outside City Hall, the car with legs on Alma, etc. etc.
I would much rather view a beautiful statue or building devoted to one religious group than any of the so called art we have here.
Posted by Now I'm upset, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 10:49 am
Since my perfectly civil comment on the Eruv discussion was removed I'd like to register that I'm very upset by that. My point was that since we have to have the Eruv I feel it's only fair now that we include the symbols that are meaningful to people of other religions and beliefs, such as a statue of the Buddha, a crucifix, etc. etc. Who removed my comment? What was their agenda?
Posted by Stilling debating the slippery slope, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 4:43 pm
Returning to the article in the Weekly and a question repeatedly asked in this thread, where precisely are the proposed boundaries of the eruv? The article states:
"[Rabbi] Feldman would not specify exactly where twine would be installed, though he said creek beds would also be considered part of the eruv, thus not requiring the twine to be continuous. He said the eruv would encompass 'where people live' in Palo Alto and Stanford."
How can members of the public reasonably evaluate public (and private???) property issues - and apply Constitutional issues to the facts - if basic information about how and where the symbolic twine will be hung is kept out of public discussion?
Since establishing an eruv involves public property shouldn't the public be informed what property is involved? Setting aside for a moment the debate about religious symbols and governmental proclamations, could we discuss the actual practical impacts - if any - of the installation and maintenance of this particular eruv?
Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 9:30 pm
Another idea: If I understand correctly, the media that is planned to be tacked up to establish the Eruv will be monofilament fishing line(?). Since that is obviously a technological upgrade from the original twine Eruvs, why not bring it up-to-date and establish a wired or wireless Eruv using the internet. It could indeed travel from computer/router locations spanning the roughly the same geographic boundaries as a stringed Eruv. It would even be much, much easier to verify and maintain as you could tell instantly when it was not continuous. Plus, the people who want it up could do so without disrupting other's rights to not be infringed by it, simple?
Posted by R Wray, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2007 at 8:53 am
Exactly what form did the approval for the eruv take? The story mentions an "encroachment permit". What does it say? Who signed it? Was there a vote by the City Council? If so, what was it? Was it on any agenda? Apparently the county also had to approve it; what are the details?
Posted by Eruv is here, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 29, 2007 at 7:49 am
For those of you interested in additional information about the eruv:
The glow from the dinner last Sunday night is still upon us. It was a wonderful evening, the fruit of hard work by the organizers.
The single most mentioned word on Sunday night was "Eruv." The granting of the final permit last week by the City of Palo Alto was a milestone. So far, the reaction to publicity in both the Palo Alto Weekly and the Mercury News has been minimal. May it remain that way.
Our fundraising goals to cover construction are now clear. As we have said in the past, we invite people to join the effort as "Friends of the Eruv" with a $500 donation and a pledge of $180/year for maintenance. The sponsorship of a pole is $2500.
Of course, all contributions of all amounts to the Eruv effort will be considered "Friends"; no donation is too small.
Such contributions no longer have to come on faith. We now have the possibility of an Eruv within our grasp. We are looking for 100% participation in this effort, as everyone in the Emek Beracha community can appreciate the profound contribution the Eruv will make to the Simcha of Shabbat.
Posted by Not anti anything, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2007 at 10:26 am
As I said I'd have no problem with the Eruv if the city also accomodated objects, symbols, etc from other religions/cultures in its public areas. Unfortunately, the city is very limited in what it allows to be displayed, resulting as someone else mentioned in the hideous sterile public art that is often the only thing that doesn't offend anyone. I say, if you're going to bring on the Eruv, that's fine with me but only if we can also enjoy the richness of all forms of cultural expression. Nothing anti-semitic about it.
Posted by a good citizen, a resident of the Esther Clark Park neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 8:13 am
We moved to a neighborhood in Palo Alto (in large part) because it lacked overhead lines and poles. Now we are graced with unattractive shinny poles looming 20 feet into the air with lines strug from pole to pole gintinting sunlight merely to accommodate the religious practices of a minority of residents -- all done without public debate. Put them underground, out of sight, and please don't ask me to pay for doing that.
Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community, on Aug 22, 2007 at 11:00 pm
For those of you who care: August 04,2000 Jewish Bulletin
Rejection of proposed Palo Alto eruv a blow to Jews. by Joshua Brandt
"The eruv's potential death blow was delivered in a report drawn up by City Manager, FRANK BENEST. The report stated that placing foreign attachments on telephone poles or lampposts constituted a safety hazard for City workers"
Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community, on Aug 23, 2007 at 8:55 pm
Spike; That was not my reference.. That was a colum witten. REPORT WRITTEN BY FRANK BENEST> It was Frank Benest... Joshua Brandt wrote the colum. I think it was a copout. Like he really cares about anyone but himself and the people who play ball with him> I just tried to answer a comment from above, asking who stop the eruv the first around... Date August 4,2000