Toms River won’t fight Orthodox Jews’ Eruv
TOMS RIVER — The township says it won't fight eruvim — makeshift borders around areas of town, constructed by the Orthodox Jewish community — after seeing other municipalities fail in their own legal battles against them.
Eruvim are symbolic boundaries installed where there are large Orthodox Jewish populations, allowing them to do things like carry keys, push strollers or carry groceries on the Sabbath and on Yom Kippur, when such activity is usually prohibited outside of one's own home. They are made of string or wire enclosing the area. In many cases, the eruvim have included PVC piping attached to utility poles — a point of conflict in Mahwah and Upper Saddle River.
Business Administrator Paul J. Shives said the township's legal department has reviewed the matter for several months and determined the issue has been decided in the courts.
"Based on the litigation in federal courts in both New Jersey and New York, which dates back by the way to 1987, the courts have uniformly sided with eruvs over municipal regulation of them," he said. "At this point we do not believe that we have the legal authority to regulate those."
Shives said since an eruv was put up in the North Dover section of town, officials have "not received many complaints or concerns," from the residents outside of the Orthodox community.
"We did follow up with a gentleman who was installing them one day," he said. "He produced a right-of-way agreement with consent from Jersey Central Power & Light, so at that point it became kind of a moot issue for us."
Towns including Mahwah have seen considerable objections to eruvim being built, promptoing a federal court case. But Shives said there is enough legal precedent on the issue already to satisfy Toms River's administration.
"It's not a fear of litigation," he said. "It's basically just a (question of) why would we venture into the area knowing that the courts have already determined that municipal regulation is not feasible," he said.
Mahwah has also had reports of the structure being vandalized. Shives said there have been no reports of any such instances in Toms River.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com