With the expansion of the eruv in White Plains, the three eruv sectors of White Plains and Scarsdale are now joined, allowing for many more houses and apartments to be included within its borders. Rabbi Chaim Marder, rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of White Plains, said there are now 19 miles of contiguous eruv coverage. An eruv is a virtually invisible demarcation that allows for shomer Shabbat Jews to carry items on Shabbat and Yom Kippur.
“This has opened up the area north of us,” Rabbi Marder explained. “Within a mile, there is a whole new area of housing, apartments and single-family homes, as well as hotels and hospitals.”
The Westchester Jewish community has thrived in recent years, enjoying the benefits of growing day schools in Riverdale, Mamaroneck, White Plains, New Rochelle and Greenwich, and mikvaot in New Rochelle, Scarsdale and Riverdale, and significant kosher food options and availability, including a kosher bakery, pizza, yogurt and an under-supervision bakery at Stop & Shop, as well as restaurants in New Rochelle and Stamford. The shuls have also benefited from growing memberships, charismatic leadership and new programming. An eruv extension that connects more communities can only bring about positive change for this enclave, which begins approximately 25 miles north of New York City.
Rabbi Marder, whose shul includes 250 member units, said he began thinking about extending the eruv a few years ago when approached by several people who hoped their homes could be placed inside the eruv, but found the logistics daunting. He revisited the idea last year when the Hebrew Institute began a major capital campaign to rebuild and expand the shul. “I realized that with the expansion plan, and the explosion of apartment construction, the time had come for us to go back to the drawing board and reimagine how we could include areas north and northwest of the synagogue building in the eruv,” he said. He reached out to his colleagues, Rabbi Shmuel Greenberg of the Young Israel of White Plains and Rabbis Jonathan Morgenstern and Nuriel Clinger of the Young Israel of Scarsdale, who supported the effort, and he created a plan for the extension with supervising Rabbi Haim Jachter, an expert in eruvin construction.
David Kahn, president of the Hebrew Institute, spearheaded a flash 48-hour campaign to raise money for the construction and maintenance of the eruv expansion. “Everyone was excited about this opportunity to open up additional housing for our community,” he told The Jewish Link. Kahn set up a page on the shul website where people could make donations, and he publicized the campaign through emails and social media posts. “People signed up quickly; there was an outpouring of support for White Plains and the shul. The fundraising thermostat rose quickly.”
Rabbi Marder, who is in his 23rd year of leading the shul, expressed his positive opinion of his community that responded so strongly to the initiative. “We are a vibrant synagogue with an loving, embracing membership. [We offer a ] strong tefillah experience, meaningful learning, a deep commitment to am Yisrael, medinat Yisrael and to civic engagement too. We also have a strong commitment to providing meaningful engagement of women in every aspect of synagogue life within the confines of halacha,” he said. He added that the shul has a new “youth director couple,” Aaron and Deena Portman, Chazzan Yitzy Spinner and Leah Sarna as a congregational intern.
Rena Fredman and Marilyn Kneller Rimsky, who serve as co-presidents of the Hebrew Institute of White Plains, expressed nothing but support for the initiative and the work of their rabbi throughout the endeavor. “Rabbi Marder worked long and hard on mapping out the new area covered within the eruv, coordinating with the other synagogues to establish the parameters and to ensure the necessary maintenance and follow-up. The Hebrew Institute provided funding to make sure it happened. We are thrilled that the three communities have come together to provide living opportunities in new neighborhoods that meet the needs of people seeking to move to this area. And, as always, we are proud of Rabbi Marder’s vision and initiative in making this happen,” they wrote in a letter to The Jewish Link.
Rabbi Marder said he is happy the eruv is up and looks forward to letting real estate agents know about the expansion. Potential home buyers frequently ask about whether or not a particular street is within the eruv. Now the answer will be “yes” to more of those questions.
For the eruv map and details visit http://www.hiwp.org/resources/eruv/.
Editor’s note: We apologize for an incomplete, erroneous staff report about the eruv’s completion in the August 31 issue of The Jewish Link.
By Bracha Schwartz