Atheists Claim Eruv "Imposes Orthodox Judaism" on Miami Beach, Demand Removal

Categories: News

eruv3.jpg
Photo by Michael E. Miller
String from an eruv runs around Pinetree Park
Two months ago, Riptide reported that residents of Miami Beach were angry that an eruv -- an orthodox Jewish enclosure -- had appeared in Pinetree Park. The sticks and string were an eyesore and an affront to the separation of church and state, one local complained, but the City of Miami Beach backed the eruv.

Now a national atheist organization has gotten involved. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has written a letter to the city demanding not only that the eruv in Pinetree Park be dismantled, but that all other public eruvs on the island be taken down.

"The religious significance of eruvin is unambiguous and indisputable," FFRF staff attorney Andrew Seidel wrote yesterday. "They are objects which are significant only to some Jews as a means to obey religious laws that have no bearing on non-adherents. They have no meaning except as a visual, public communication of a purely religious concept for religious believers of a single faith. The City cannot allow such permanent religious displays to be erected on public land."

See also: New Orthodox Jewish Eruv in Pinetree Park Raises Constitutional Questions

This debate is nothing new.

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.

An eruv was erected around Miami Beach back in 1985. For much of the island, the seawall is considered enough of a structure to serve as an eruv. However, where there are breaks in the seawall, such as at a recently built kayak ramp in Pinetree Park, an elaborate network of ceremonial sticks and string must be maintained by local rabbis.

In 1999, orthodox Jewish residents of Tenafly, New Jersey, sued the city for the right to put up an eruv. A federal appeal court ultimately sided with the orthodox Jews but didn't address the underlying question of whether eruvs should be allowed on public land.

The issue has flared from time to time. In 2002, New Times covered the ACLU's complaints about the eruv around Miami Beach.

Now it's FFRF's turn to fire away.

"Allowing Orthodox Jews to permanently demarcate large areas of public property as a private Jewish household that is 'property' of the Orthodox Jewish community forces those of other faiths and no faith to live within an Orthodox Jewish religious enclosure," Seidel says in the letter.

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48 comments
Christian Wells
Christian Wells

I have known about the "eruv" for years (talk of it resurfaces once every few years, and everyone acts like it's the first they've ever heard of it).and I agree with the atheists- it flat-out does not belong on public property. Take it down. You want to be superstitious? Do it in your own home.

Christian Wells
Christian Wells

^^^ No, it wouldn't, Wednesday. Removing it would be taking the public space back to a neutral environment, devoid of any of the marks or ornaments of any one religion. You know, the way it SHOULD be??

acr123
acr123

"Call the Fontainebleau hotel and find out how much they make over the Passover holiday," Abraham Galbut told New Times. "They're booked solid."

And that's the main tool used by any religion to get its way these days.

Alex Garcia
Alex Garcia

Britt Swan It's actually a beautiful and deeply moving memorial on Miami Beach Britt.

Humberto Casanova
Humberto Casanova

Seriously. If it bothers you (atheist) so much, don't look at it. That letter quoted in this article is ridiculous. That string is barely visible in the photo and it doesn't impose anything upon anybody! Honestly, I wouldn't have known what that was hanging from a tree had I walked by, nor would I care after finding out it's something Jewish. Suck it up and keep it moving. Ultimately it's more about acceptance than it is about fairness. Accept those with a faith the way they accept your lack of faith.

Adam Walsh
Adam Walsh

the antisemites are having a field day. Jews made MB one of the safest and most visited cities in the world. Try living in a place developed by atheists like n. korea.

Britt Swan
Britt Swan

That awful and terrifying Holocaust memorial in Miami Beach, and THIS is with what they choose to take issue?!

Ray Grandon
Ray Grandon

Their just showing how stupid religion is. The real god is earth and the beings are destroying it daily with their greed and pollution!!!

RealRabbi
RealRabbi

The concept of a string truly representing an enclosed courtyard is just silly. It isn't and is a Jewish sellout to money to think it is. REAL Orthodox Jews don't play that game. Just sayin'.

Joseph Mazon
Joseph Mazon

Atheists, we welcome you too under the First Amendment, now can ONE of you explain WHY a string hanging from a tree or pole offends you? :) Don't be so unhappy guys and gals, let it be. It's not like we're asking you to attend services on the Shabbath.

Mark Field
Mark Field

I'm sorry but I can't even see it from the photos. How am I missing it? Is it a piece of string? If it is the what's the big deal???

DRAKEMALLARD.0
DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter

Happy Festivus I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you're gonna hear about it! And at the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year.

Atheism is a non profit organization.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPOfurmrjxo

Erik ImageMonger
Erik ImageMonger

the shalimar hotel, we aren't trying to prove that God doesn't exist . It's your job to prove that he/she/it does. Religion makes extraordinary claims yet there has never be a single, observable, repeatable shred of evidence for the divine since the dawn of life on this planet. Atheism is not a religion. Saying it is is akin to saying not stamp collecting is a hobby. All those of us who are non-believers are saying is "prove it or keep it at home where it belongs". If your superstition doesn't allow you to go outside maybe it 's time to do some critical thinking instead of tying string in a freaking park...

CutTheString
CutTheString

I've been thinking this for years!   The plastic poles and string is an eyesore and if these nuts really think they are tricking god with this string, they can put a string around their own yard!   Or just stay inside their damn house.


It has no place on public land and last I saw it was completely around parts of the beach including the boardwalk.

Mibalz Ezhari
Mibalz Ezhari

Superstitious people put up a string to quarantine what they consider to be their home so they can put their cell phones in their pockets.

Alex Wall
Alex Wall

Seriously? Really? At Devil's Tower in Wyoming, local tribes leave prayer objects in the trees and tourists and visitors are strictly instructed not to disturb them. I don't see the difference. All religions deserve respect on public lands, this isn't hurting anyone or denying anyone their rights. It's not offensive to any groups. It's just a bit of string in the trees. Culture up, you jerks, learn a thing or two from your neighbors about their faith: it won't kill you.

orleans
orleans topcommenter

take that rope off the park!!!
crosses do not harm anyone either, and they can't be erected on public parks.

Danny Guaico
Danny Guaico

Yeah, like the rich Jews that run this city are going to listen to a group of annoying atheists

misterflorida2000
misterflorida2000

This is going a slightly difficult thing to address, considering that I'm Jewish (but not Orthodox). You have to understand the mentality of being Orthodox Jewish. Originally Jewish thought is very objective and straight to the point. If something is said in the Torah, then the Orthodox believe in following it in a direct manner. They don't don't read into something and try to understand through subjective reasoning, or through symbolism, or through creative interpretation. They believe in following Torah word for word. Thus, by keeping them from having their eruv, you are denying them from practicing their religion because they are trying to follow their religion word for word. We do have a separation between Church and State, but we also have a right to practice religion and to choose what religion we want. If someone is walking around a courthouse and they have a cross on their necklace, you can't have the police run these people down and rip the cross off of them because there is a separation between church and state. State owned property is not being used to proselytize people, you are publicly seeing people practicing and enjoying their religion. If  they happen to be in public it is not someone's right to say they can be denied their religion, because we have the right to have religion. In truth an eruv is not a public permanently erected structure. However oddly, in the minds of a very religiously observant Jew, it is a serious substantial erected structure, if these Jewish people want to think that it is a substantial erected structure that just allow them to feel that way. Because the reality of the situation, for secular practical and legal concerns, is that it is a transient fleeting thing. It's a string that just sways in the wind and be easily taken down when needed. If someone is in a public park and if they happen to take off some religious accoutrement and place it on a picnic table, so they can wipe their brow, it does mean that picnic table is now permanently erected religious structure.             

Adnarim Ed Yelsek
Adnarim Ed Yelsek

Who gives a #&$@! It's a DAMN STRING! I don't believe in any type of religion and this doesn't bother me. It's not like a 20 foot tall Star of David sculpture or something. People are so petty. Pick your battles.

The Shalimar Motel
The Shalimar Motel

if they dont believe in anything why the then they try to proof that God doesnt exist? that means thet they are not sure about that, so they are mostly trying to prove that to themselves.. very sad..

Fulanito Perez
Fulanito Perez

Elizabeth, atheism is not a religion. The main reason for that is that atheists don't worship a diety. People who are religious have a hard time with that. Athiests don't worship anything at all. There is no centralized system of beliefs, no dogma and you're not excommunicated for anything. I think your problem is more with the fact that freedom of religion also means that you have the right to freedom FROM religion.

Carlos Franco
Carlos Franco

This really does not impose anything on non adherents, the are better things to fight against

Eugenio A. Alonso
Eugenio A. Alonso

To clarify the matter for those who don't understand in no way does this make the whole are "Jewish property". It is merely a legal fixture to be able to carry things during the Sabbath. For example, you can carry your house keys and push a stroller with your kid in it. I hardly think this is an imposition on anyone else, rather on Jews themselves who abide what they deem to be a religious duty not to perform certain types of "work" during the Sabbath. That said, a string hanging from a tree or a pole, really? Does it affect anyone else or is it an affront to anyone? Really? Come on. Why don't the atheists go after the circle drummers and the people who do Santeria and who both leave spoiled food and trash on the shores of the beach. I don't see them complaining about those practices, far more prevalent on the beach than a string.

Elizabeth Alan
Elizabeth Alan

Atheism is now a religion too, based on the criteria of what a religion is - albeit they prefer anti-religion, but it is funded, named and has many members that uphold an orchestrated ideal. In essence they worship a void.

Chgo Dave
Chgo Dave

Yeah they're the smart ones?

acr123
acr123

Edited post that system didn't allow:

"Call the Fontainebleau hotel and find out how much they make over the Passover holiday," Abraham Galbut told New Times. "They're booked solid."

And that's a big tool used by any enterprise to get its way these days. Playing the victim's another good one - the oppressed owners of Hobby Lobby, it seems any Muslim with a megaphone anywhere, and certainly the Jewish community, though it must be acknowledged with profound cultural guilt that Westerns and Orthodox Christianity have taught well the people of Jewish heritage  how to play victim. However, when any belief system chooses to insert or promote itself in the public space, it damn well better pay market rates. 

broker21
broker21

6 Millions humans where brutally murdered how do you make that pretty?  I dont want to be insulting - you clearly have zero compassion for human life!  What about the human life in darfur - we need to build these educational museums so we can teach the future to never forget and never let it happen again!

broker21
broker21

@RealRabbi who are you to determine who is a REAL Orthodox Jew and who isnt?  Are you judging others?  

broker21
broker21

@CutTheString all that thinking and its got you looking at plastic poles and string - too much time in the sun.  Did you know that just beyond the string is the beach that stretches along the entire eastern seaboard and beyond that is the ocean -- and all you got was a plastic pole and string .... I have seen the string on the boardwalk and unless your 8ft or taller i dont think the string is going to obstruct your view ... just sayn

orleans
orleans topcommenter

Devil's Tower was a Native American sacred site before it was made a national monument and before Europeans set foot in North America and occupied Native lands (similar logic/claim to be there first for the state of Israel). That is not the case for Pinetree park, Miami, or the United States. Having said that, I say Pinetree park be covered with Christmas decorations next december.

broker21
broker21

@orleans cross vs. string  Please explain?  A cross represents an entire religion?  String is a religious what?

broker21
broker21

Stereotype - we are not all rich. 

orleans
orleans topcommenter

Why dont you go to that park and see for yourself? Last time i was there i almost got strangled by the stupid cord hanging between trees, and falling off everytime there's a bit of wind. plus it looks very ugly and shabby. It is a park, i am sorry, a public park.

orleans
orleans topcommenter

It does if you frequent that park. The cord is annoying, very visible, and plain ugly. and it is all over!!

orleans
orleans topcommenter

its not a tree. it is a cord all over the park that goes from tree to tree and sometiems falls off and you're lucky if you manage to avoid being strangled by it when you walk around. if it were higher one could hang sneakers after graduation, but it is not even that high. It could maintain the small trees straight if it were tense, but it's just there, all over. dirty and annoying.

Madara
Madara

@broker21 Why only focus on 6 million? Why? They have a monopoly on genocide.

Madara
Madara

@broker21 Human judge all the time. That's why I call them Gods. Because they really made God in their own image.

Madara
Madara

@broker21 He said rich. If you are a poor one he wasn't talking about you. Simple.

broker21
broker21

@orleans I am going to check it out at the park this weekend.  I cannot imagine that its hanging low enough for someone to get hurt ... thats not cool

csand
csand

@orleans you're an idiot. please do all of a favor and try harder to get strangled next time

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