By Danny Schrafel
Jewish residents of Dix Hills now have a little bit more flexibility on the Sabbath in a portion of Dix Hills thanks to a recently completed eruv.
Chai Center Rabbi Yaakov Saacks said the impetus for the eruv, a boundary inside which Jews are allowed to carry or move objects, like baby strollers, keys, Frisbees and the like during the Sabbath, came from “a grassroots initiative from congregants.” It took about a year to formalize through work with LIPA, Verizon and the Town of Huntington.
Jewish law prohibits carrying or pushing objects, regardless of their size, from a public to a private domain, and vice versa, during the Sabbath. An eruv is a symbolic way of formally designating an area of a community as a single or combined domain, which allows objects to be carried outside the home.
The eruv was completed about two weeks ago, and the town board ratified the zone during a meeting last week. The perimeter is largely formed by Verizon telephone poles, along with a handful of LIPA cables.
“You form almost a barrier – a symbolic barrier – by using the poles and adding strings, and you make it then permissible, as it’s now considered everybody has joined together to make it their own front yard together,” Saacks explained.
In Dix Hills, the eruv begins at the intersection of Deer Park Road (NY Route 231) and the North Service Road of the Long Island Expressway, continues due west along the North Service Road to Half Hollow Road, then northwest along Half Hollow Road to Westcliff Drive, then northeast along Westcliff to Wolf Hill Road, then east along Wolf Hill to Caledonia Road, then north along Caledonia to Arbor Lane, then east along Arbor to Lisa Drive, then east and south along Lisa back to Wolf Hill Road, then east along Wolf Hill to Deer Park Road, then south along Deer Park to Vanderbilt Parkway, then east along the Vanderbilt to Commack Road, then south along Commack Road to the North service road of the LIE, where it concludes by heading west to the starting point of Deer Park Road and the North Service Road.
“What we’re doing is, essentially, we are using LIPA’s wires and Verizon’s wires [to create a perimeter] – we’re not touching their wires, but we need to get permission under Jewish law,” Saacks said.
Where gaps exist, the eruv is completed by objects such as fences, sound barriers along the Long Island Expressway and the walls of buildings. Where no such continuous link exists, fishing wire was installed to span the gap and complete the chain.
Every Friday, Saacks travels the 11-mile perimeter of the eruv to ensure the bond is unbroken. Where it is, repairs are made when possible, but with much of the enclosure formed by utility wires and poles, maintenance is minimal, he said.
So too, Saacks said, is the visual effect. Unless you know where the breaks in the chain exist, it’s almost impossible to see.
“We didn’t want to become a Westhampton and cause friction in the community,” Saacks said, referencing a community where a major battle erupted over an eruv’s creation. “We didn’t change the nature of the neighborhood. There’s no big thing sticking out of the poles. We did it very carefully and humbly.”