Eruv (from Hebrew , ruv, “fence”) is a symbolic fence used to enclose a Jewish community’s properties for purposes of observing Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. It is constructed in a variety of ways, but the most common uses include constructing a symbolic fence using utility poles and wires or creating a real wall on an existing building, natural wall or steep hill.

Symbolic fencing is often made by stringing attachments to utility poles or the wires of public streets, sidewalks and other public property. This is a complex process that requires negotiation with the owners of the public property, and sometimes with local authorities or utility companies.

The construction of a symbolic fence is often subject to controversy. Many communities have sought legal guidance from the courts and from public works personnel about what is required of them when they string the boundaries.

In some cases, the eruv has been physically strung or installed on a large area, such as the entire neighborhood of a modern city. In Outremont, a neighbourhood in Montreal, Canada, a rabbinic court held that a Jewish community was entitled to an injunction from the city to stop the city from removing wires that were part of an eruv.

A Jewish community can also create an eruv by agreeing to a legal aggregation of the separate parcels that make up its property. This enables observant Jews to carry their children and other possessions anywhere within the legally aggregated area on Jewish Sabbath without breaking the rules against carrying a burden across a property line.

Although a community can decide whether to create an eruv, it is important that the rabbinate or local authority approve its creation in advance. If the government does not approve, or if the agreement does not contain all of the requirements for a valid aggregation, the Jewish community must choose another way to create a legal eruv.

Secular Law & Policy

In general, secular law treats the properties in an eruv as being separate parcels of land under the same ownership or tenancy with respect to ordinary property law. This allows a person living in an eruv to be insured, receive governmental assistance or participate in various other forms of public service.

Despite these benefits, secular law has a number of concerns about eruvs. One is that an eruv may obstruct traffic, interfere with emergency services and create a hazard for pedestrians.

Another concern is that an eruv could disrupt the operation of utilities or public work crews. If an eruv is not properly maintained, the area could become an accident and health hazard.

The issue is further complicated by a number of factors, such as the size of the area that is covered by the eruv and the sensitivity of utility and public works crews about removing attachments when they are needed for repair.

As a result, a number of municipalities have prohibited eruv-related attachments from being placed on their property, and have taken steps to limit the use of the word eruv by non-Jews. Alternatively, they have approved eruvs but only for the most specific circumstances. Erdbeermilch

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