Last month, Shabbat-observant Jews living in a 10-mile loop of Marlboro and Morganville were able for the first time to push baby strollers to shul on Saturday, carry a book or reading glasses, or bring a Shabbat meal to a neighbor, thanks to the completion of the area’s first eruv.
For ritually observant Jews, carrying objects — or pushing a carriage — from a “private” domain (the home) into a “public” one (outside the home) is prohibited on the Sabbath, unless there is an eruv, a boundary of string and existing “fencing” that forms a symbolic Shabbat border.
The two-year project was led by the Monmouth Torah Links community, under the guidance of codirectors Rabbi Yitzchok Oratz and Rabbi Gedalia Liebes. A second eruv in Marlboro, which will connect the west side of Route 9 in Marlboro and Manalapan, is being created by Rabbi Chaim Leiter of Union Hill Congregation in Manalapan.
Oratz credited Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik and the township council for their help in approving the eruv project. Torah Links plans to have an event celebrating the completion of the project some time next month.
Enhancing the joy
About 400 existing telephone poles were used in creating the eruv. A lehi — a thin plastic strip that represents a doorpost — was affixed to each of the poles, allowing the wires themselves to be considered part of the “boundary.”
Mindful of the church-state squabbles that have accompanied eruv projects in other towns, Oratz said the eruv enhances the joy of Shabbat while remaining all but unnoticeable to passersby.
“An eruv hurts nobody and helps many,” Oratz said. “We have a community of people who live in various parts of town with all levels of observance. Our goal is to unite the entire community, and a fundamental part of Jewish living is the Sabbath. This allows many people to have greater enjoyment of Shabbos, by enabling families with small children to easily walk to synagogue and share a meal at friends’ and families’ homes, or for the elderly to be pushed in a wheelchair.”
Scott Terminiello, a Marlboro resident and member of the Torah Links community, oversaw the eruv construction, working together with Verizon to measure each wire between the hundreds of telephone poles. He used a 30-foot measuring stick made of fiberglass — to prevent electrocution — with assistance from two other Marlboro residents, Lee Schogel and Schogel’s son Shayne. The eruv will be checked by a Lakewood rabbi on a weekly basis to ensure it is intact as Shabbat begins.
The eruv begins on Crine Road in Morganville, proceeds to Tennent Road, Harbor Road, Route 79, and the Route 18 northbound entrance ramp, then loops back to Tennent Road, up Route 520 to Crine Road.
“In order to comply to Verizon’s safety requirements, we made sure not to knock their wires down — or get electrocuted,” said Terminiello.
“Standing in the street as cars whipped by us, we put ourselves in a somewhat dangerous situation,” he said. “Having an eruv is very important to me personally and to the community as a whole. Many observant Jews in that area who wanted to carry on Shabbos now have that capability.”
Now that the township granted eruv approval, more area synagogues may start eruv projects, said Rabbi Boruch Chazanow, codirector of Chabad of Western Monmouth. “There is definitely a growing interest in observing Shabbat as people realize how much it enriches their lives.”