New Orthodox Jewish Eruv in Pinetree Park Raises Constitutional Questions

Categories: News

eruv1.jpg
Michael E. Miller
Part of an eruv recently erected in Pinetree Park
Mary Baker knows Pinetree Park like the back of her hand. Every morning, she walks her dogs beneath its eponymous pines. And every evening, she returns. As the setting sun glints off Indian Creek to the east, butterflies flit around the community garden. On an island infamous for sin, the park is a rare outpost of peace.

Last summer, however, Baker was walking along the water when she spotted two men erecting a pair of 15-foot-tall, pale plastic poles and connecting them with a long, thin white string. When Mary asked what the men were doing, they ignored her. She threatened to call the city. "We are the city," replied a man with a bushy beard and a black hat.

Soon, more poles appeared. They, too, were strung together, like a giant spider web slowly surrounding the park. Baker was baffled.

"It's an eruv," one of Baker's Orthodox Jewish friends finally explained.

See also: Strings Attached: Orthodox Jews in Miami Beach consider it a harmless symbol, but others believe it violates the U.S. Constitution

During the Sabbath -- which begins at sundown Friday and lasts until nightfall Saturday -- Orthodox Jews are prohibited by scripture from engaging in a number of otherwise routine activities. One rule prevents the "carrying" of any object outside the home, whether keys or kids.

An eruv is a symbolic structure that blurs the boundary between private and public areas, allowing Orthodox Jews to leave their houses and push their children around in strollers on the Sabbath.

Unbeknownst to most people, the entire island of Miami Beach is surrounded by an eruv. Most of the time, the seawall is enough. In Pinetree Park, however, the city recently installed a kayak ramp that broke the eruv.

When Rabbi Pinchas Weberman learned of the lapse in the eruv, he dispatched the two men to erect the poles and string. Weberman, who has a white beard and a gravelly voice with which he dispenses as many jokes as parables, says extending the eruv into the park isn't a big deal.

"It doesn't hurt anybody," he says. "It's hardly visible unless somebody is looking for it. And the dogs certainly aren't bothered by it."

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Pine Tree Park

44th St., Miami Beach, FL

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40 comments
afreeman5725
afreeman5725

(1) I have seen parks with crosses in them, commemorating something or other. This is a lot less obtrusive and a lot less obvious. (2) No bird is going to "garrote" itself on a piece of string. They're not stupid. They can see it and avoid it (though some might perch on it). No human will, either - it's a piece of string, not a noose! If they're standing on a ladder to rect it, it's not going to be in your face - even if it sags a little (anbd if ti does sag, I'm sure it would be an easy fix). (3) It's NOT a religious symbol. No one worships it, it doesn't contain God's name - it has no words at all. Nor is it a sanctuary - no one conducts services there (though I'd be willing to bet they have sunrise Easter services in the park). (3) Finally, I have YET to see an explanation for how this is unconstitutional. It's not the government doing it, so it has nothing to do with separation of church and state. However, how many Ten Commandments do you see in the courthosue? How many Christmas trees in public buildings? How many creches in the front? To my knowledge, those ARE erected by the government. The Lubavitches erect giant menorahs in front of building and gas stations every Chanukah. Those are a lot more intrusive than a piece of string. So, until someone can justify its unconstitutionality (again, spearation of church and state doesn't apply as it wasn't erected by the government), I see nothign wrong with it.

tape_is_glue_and_bac
tape_is_glue_and_bac

"...like a giant spider web slowly surrounding the park."

= clever biased writing.   I wouldn't be surprised to read that in Der Sturmer. 


For the record, an Eruv is not meant to over-ride a biblical prohibition, it can't do that. 

[Note:  Jerusalem = a walled city, it's permitted to carry]

John 5:

8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

//

So how could it be that Jesus told a guy to carry his mat (verse 8) and later told him to "stop sinning" (verse 14)?

The man must have walked outside the city (violating a biblical command) or stayed inside the city but walked outside the rabbinic eruv (thus only violating a rabbinic command, but still "sinning").  


Note a similar story at Mark 2, but no one complains about the carrying.  Must have taken place inside an Eruv, thus that aspect of the confrontation was not a problem.  The rest of the confrontation must have been between Bais Shammai students and Bais Hillel.  I think the author of the story misunderstood Jesus.  To say someone's sins are forgiven is not to actually do the forgiving, rather, but to note that God forgives freely (Is:55) and thus anyone repenting obviously has had their sins forgiven.  {Note I, myself, did not just "forgive" anyone, either, but merely made the logical conclusion based on observation:  the rule is, if someone is turning back to God, their sins are forgiven, because turning back to God is all you have to do, then God will forgive your sins.  

Ezek 33

15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.

16 None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.

No sacrifice of any sort needed. Just try to follow the rules.  "walk in the statutes"  does not say you have to be perfect. 

Ariana Hernandez Reguant
Ariana Hernandez Reguant

It would an enhancement to the park if it was "sculptural" or ornamental, instead of that ugly dirty cord that one day will behead a bird and those cheap poles.

Sherry Oehler
Sherry Oehler

Why not just do what g-d Commanded and observe the Sabbath? And I do not understand how a group that is supposed to be religious sinks to THREATS ,putting other people down when they don't get their way, in reference to the law of the land you are in, which is The United States.We have a Constitution.

verdisvioletta
verdisvioletta

It sounds like the issue is more one of aesthetics and poor craftmanship of the eruv than it actually being there. It also sounds like other materials can be used to construct the eruv other than some crappy plastic poles and string. Can something really beautiful be designed and installed that looks like a sculpture and serves as an eruv while enhancing the park? This sounds like it would take care of two birds with one stone. The Jewish community would have to pay for it of course, as they are the ones wanting the demarcation. Jewry has a long tradition on the Beach and we have to be inclusive of everyone in the community. There must be a better answer to this problem. 

Vanessa Ortiz
Vanessa Ortiz

honestly. needing to hang strings to feel ok about walking in nature on certain periodic risings of our star? do people observe themselves when theyre being ridiculous? or do they block it out as its happening?

Sherry Oehler
Sherry Oehler

So, it's like a Religious cheat sheet. A hack. G-d makes rules that people have to maneuver around.hmmm Can we get a monument to Lucifer there too? Not that I am any particular faith. I just like to hear what All theologies have to say.

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Sayad Khan
Sayad Khan

Religion is like a strong opinion. Sometimes it's best kept to oneself.

David
David

Does lightning strike if a Jewish woman is pushing a stroller in the park on the Sabbath if someone where to cut down the string while she is there? Come on, the string thing is silly.

David
David

I have great respect for people that live their religion especially many of the ultra orthodox jews. However, I do not agree that someone should be allowed to install strings which does affect ones view in a public part. The more you know about the strings the more it is in fact imposing Jewish religious ideas on others as the strings are unavoidable.


It is silly really that a string 12 feet in the air is considered a "boundary" like a wall to a courtyard....just a silly technical reinterpretation and is NOT an adherence to the spirit of the Sabbath in the first place. That should be the debate....if you put up strings everywhere then no where would be free from work. Oh well, I guess such mental gymnastics are welcomed where one wants to present themselves as being "religious" to others within their community when the rest of us know how silly it is...the emperor has no cloths. At least the Amish are faithful to the spirit of their beliefs.


Perhaps something more palatable can be constructed at the kayak ramp to get rid of those silly strings...a string ain't a wall people...stop thinking that a string allows you to be faithful to your religion, it doesn't.

David
David

I have great respect for people that live their religion especially many of the ultra orthodox jews. However, I do not agree that someone should be allowed to install strings which does affect ones view in a public part. The more you know about the strings the more it is in fact imposing Jewish religious ideas on others as the strings are unavoidable.


It is silly really that a string 12 feet in the air is considered a "boundary" like a wall to a courtyard....just a silly technical reinterpretation and is NOT an adherence to the spirit of the Sabbath in the first place. That should be the debate....if you put up strings everywhere then no where would be free from work. Oh well, I guess such mental gymnastics are welcomed where one wants to present themselves as being "religious" to others within their community when the rest of us know how silly it is...the emperor has no cloths. At least the Amish are faithful to the spirit of their beliefs.


Perhaps something more palatable can be constructed at the kayak ramp to get rid of those silly strings...a string ain't a wall people...stop thinking that a string allows you to be faithful to your religion, it doesn't.

EzƦă VɅǹ
EzƦă VɅǹ

Next thing you know, the religious crazies will want to put "In God we trust" on our currency.

Sophie1980
Sophie1980

Can't carry anything outside your house? whether it be your kids or your keys? I'm sorry, but in my opinion, Orthodox Jews have the most backwards, superstitious, cult like religion ever. Im not surprised some jewish thing is in that park. Its in the middle of heebville. I agree with the woman who walks her dogs. maybe catholics should put a cross next to it, satanists should toss a 666 up there, etc. etc.  lets leave religion in the churches or religious groups and not blast it all over the place. wearing a cross necklace or those jew get ups hey if thats your cup of tee knock yourself out too but seriously, dont force your religions into our parks

Víctor Enrique Camacho
Víctor Enrique Camacho

Oy vay... Everybody gets all fatutst over the slightest thing.. I think the whole concept of the eruv, is primitive and territorial... but its so insignificant that I could really care less.

av-8
av-8

Capt ridiculous thinks this def news worthy....

Adrian
Adrian

The experienced know that trying to get rid of the eiruv is just an excuse to have orthodox jews leave their town. Orthodox jews commit next to no crimes, have well behaved families, dress nicely on saturday in suits and dresses, are not loud etc. Compare a harmless thin wire (not to mention we always see telephone/cable wires everywhere anyway) to living in queens ny with grafiti and low life scum blasting rap music and cursing until 1 am. An eruv allows tax paying jewish families to carry their children in a park. They even pay for your public schools and don't derive benefit from them since they all go to private school that they have to cough up 30k a kid per year for. Truly unbelievable. 

José Manuel
José Manuel

About freaking time somebody complains about this crap

Allison Kotzig
Allison Kotzig

She probs confiscates any and all balls that end up in her yard as well

Adnarim Ed Yelsek
Adnarim Ed Yelsek

She definitely has a point. Separation of church and state. Regardless of how unnoticeable it is, it is still illegal to put a religious structure in a publicly-owned space. Now, that aside, it's so hard to notice that I'm sure it wouldn't bother most people and it wouldn't bother me. I don't think most people would know what it is if they didn't read this. It still doesn't make it right. But it's one of those things where it's just easier to look the other way because it's such a little thing.

buy1456
buy1456

What a silly thing to fight over. The Eruv doesn't force anyone to adhere to any religions and is barely noticeable. If anything, it promotes community building and increases safety. Jewish families are allowed to enjoy their Saturday's off and spend time with their families outdoors. In our ultra liberal society where we feel bad for thugs and criminals this is just one fight people should get over unless their intent is to keep observant Jew's out of their sight... 

Ess Vee
Ess Vee

Interesting article, I learned something new ^_^

DrumRollPlease
DrumRollPlease

Check the string at MacArthur Causeway and 5th street.  I believe one time I saw a fire truck fixing that string.  I am requesting the fire department put a giant cross at that location.  The city can maintain the cross and the string if they were in fact using city employees to maintain string. 

GrowUp
GrowUp

it's idiotic.   you aren't tricking god with this string.   time for it to come down.

Antonio Valladares
Antonio Valladares

"I'm not in favor of crosses or crescents or Ten Commandments either. We need some faith-free zones in our lives." -- this lady is a hero

Tony Prieto
Tony Prieto

Religion intruding on public space, are we sure they're not Christian?

Eugenio A. Alonso
Eugenio A. Alonso

If I read this correctly, the Eruv was there until the new Kayak ramp broke. This means it had to be fixed (a pre-existing "structure"), so, that's what they did. Now, the only thing that remains is for the Rabbi to pull a permit to allow him to place the string on that area. Where I live, all along the beach I can see it, it isn't like the strings are overtly oppressive to anyone walking, running or taking their dogs out.

Exiliado
Exiliado

Yes, we have a Constitution, but it seems like you never bothered to read it.

Adrian
Adrian

There are many orthodox jews who do not hold of an eiruv and do not carry anything on the sabbath. but not everyone is up to that level and they believe the Bible purposely allows for different standards for different people. some people will have their sabbath ruined if they can't carry their children which is why the Bible allows for this structure of eiruv. they view commandments as a reality. just like a diabetic's blood sugar will go high if he eats sugar so to their soul will sink if they do not follow these commandments. 

BneiNoach
BneiNoach

@verdisvioletta Ya the argument presented is first on its looks being called "ugly", however later on the lady also complains that she wants to be in a religious free zone. Yes the Jewish community could make it look much nicer, but they could not make any form of statue. Exodus 20:3 You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness which is in the heavens above, which is on the earth below, or which is in the water beneath the earth.


The only option is to use some type of pole, and it cannot have any image of anything in creation upon it. The "ugly" eruv first established might of been a temporary quick fix for shabbos.

BneiNoach
BneiNoach

Laws of an eruv/wall are complicated, especially when it comes to the halakha of the jubilee year.


If you want to talk theology about "the devil", xtianity and Judaism are completely different on this subject. xtianity believes there are two separate kingdoms, good vs evil, with Satan as the leader of evil. However, in Judaism and the Hebrew scriptures there is no mention of a leader of evil. Its a complicated subject, here is link to watch, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGNAOZTXkac 

msaulr101
msaulr101

@Sophie1980  No one particularly cares what you think. You are an Anti-semite that any "Heeb" can decipher.  Its obvious that you would love to wear a "Jew getup."  You are probably so ugly that at least the getup will take the attention off your face and body.

Sophie1980
Sophie1980

Apparently you can't edit your own post here. I just wanted to add on that Im not prejudiced against orthodox, hasidic jews but if i could meet just ONE that wasnt a total asshole, id feel better about them. 

av-8
av-8

 

@Adrianas is your your stereotyping and racism. Dont cry about the holocaust and then make Separatist comments via the net....  hypocrites, zionist,nazi  go to Israel if you don't like it here 

DrumRollPlease
DrumRollPlease

520 West Ave to 450 Alton Road the string runs across six lanes of traffic on 5th street.  Who is the city employee that strings this line?  Can I get his job? 

whocares
whocares

I went over there this afternoon. There are TWO eruvs now. An older one that has been re-configured to go over the kayak ramp. No problem. There's a newer one that needlessly runs through the middle of the park. 


Do they belong to the same congregation? Why can't they both use the original unobstrusive eruv. I can't blame the neighbors for being annoyed. The newer one is way too low. 

msaulr101
msaulr101

@av-8 @Adrian  Your comment made no sense.  You probably are quite happy that they allowed you out of the institution so that you now have the opportunity to show the world how stupid you are.

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