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Reproduced from The Record, Tuesday, March 23, 2004

by Michael J. Wildes, Mayor, City of Englewood

2-10 N. Van Brunt Street

Englewood , NJ 07631


Eruv Could Be Extended to Leonia

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes and the rabbi of Englewood's largest Orthodox Jewish congregation recently met with Leonia Mayor Laurence Cherchi to discuss extending a symbolic religious boundary, or eruv, into Leonia.

The nearly invisible perimeter - usually defined by plastic ties or fishing line fixed to utility poles - allows observant Jews to conduct activities, such as carrying keys and pushing a stroller, that are otherwise forbidden on the Sabbath.

Englewood's eruv, and those in other North Jersey municipalities - such as Teaneck, Paramus, and Passaic - go virtually unnoticed by non-Orthodox residents. Real estate agents say a rising demand to live within eruvin has driven home prices skyward.

But in nearby Tenafly, the establishment of an eruv ignited a very long and loud battle between the borough's Orthodox Jewish community and elected officials who objected to the use of utility poles.

Cherchi, perhaps wary of inciting controversy, would not confirm Monday morning that he had met with Wildes and Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Congregation Ahavath Torah. But in an e-mail sent later in the day, Cherchi suggested he would endorse the proposal.

"If the issue of establishing or extending an eruv was proposed by an Orthodox Jewish group needing it, I would bring it to the Leonia council and I believe they would approve the eruv," the e-mail said. "This approval would merely accommodate the religious needs of the Orthodox Jewish group."

Both Goldin and Wildes said talks were in early stages and stressed that there were no specific plans about where the boundary would extend in Leonia.

"Nothing is clear and there has been no official decision," Goldin said. "All there has been is a statement of interest."

The Tenafly Council, which voted against allowing eruv markers because of a borough ordinance prohibiting any fliers or objects on utility poles, has spent more than $150,000 defending itself from a subsequent lawsuit filed by the Tenafly Eruv Association, members of the local Orthodox Jewish community.

The Borough Council has been discussing a settlement since last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Tenafly's appeal of a lower court's decision that allowed the eruv to remain.

Wildes said Englewood has long accommodated its 750 Orthodox Jewish families by repairing broken eruv markers and extending the eruv's boundaries to include new families, he said.

At least two members of the Leonia Council, Barbara Mitrani and Arnold Trachtenberg, said they would support an extension of the eruv into Leonia.

"I talked to a bunch of people in Tenafly, and no one seems to say it's a problem," Trachtenberg said.

Councilman Anthony Puzzo, saying it was the first he had heard about the proposal, declined to comment. Council members Mary Heveran and Elizabeth Dwarica could not be reached.


Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes, Claudia Colbert, Treasurer