Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Northeast Jewish Center, located in Yonkers near Tuckahoe, has announced the erection of an eruv. The project culminates years of dreaming, months of planning and weeks of construction, with a first phase that has recently been completed.

The new eruv stretches to Sprain Brook Parkway on the east up until Central Park Avenue on the west and between Tuckahoe Road in the south and Jennifer Lane in the north. A second-phase eruv expansion that will hopefully be completed later this year will extend beyond Central Park Avenue and into parts of the Colonial Heights neighborhood.

Leveraging the expertise of eruv expert and builder Rabbi Micha Shotkin of Passaic, New Jersey, the eruv has been established to meet the needs of the young and old community alike, especially with an influx of several younger families into the community and with parents wanting to bring children to shul to attend Shabbat meals and playdates throughout the community.

Onboarding an entire community to a virtual religious unknown is quite a task. The initial request, as Rabbi Craig Glasser said, was “pretty amusing” to try to explain to folks in the mayor’s office who have no knowledge whatsoever of building this religious private enclosure. The process, he explained, took quite awhile, with a lot of communications “down the chain” across different city departments “to get them to understand what we wanted and to get their blessing.” After connecting with the Yonkers Chief Legal Counsel, “who, much to my surprise, knew more about eruvs and the laws guiding their construction than most frum people I know” because of the North Riverdale eruv that extends into parts of Yonkers, Rabbi Glasser explained, they had a green light to move forward.

Even then, though, there were complications. The eruv passes through a school and a lechi, a 4x2x4 piece of wood that represents a doorpost, was required at that location. Instead of that being an easy task, it became a significantly arduous process, with required approvals from the superintendent to the school’s legal department to a full board meeting and then a vote by the entire Yonkers public school community, causing major delays. Ultimately, congresswoman Shelley Mayer, a member of the NEJC, helped expedite its approval through the system, but it definitely delayed the eruv.

With all of those challenges behind them—no one ever said building an eruv was going to be easy—the eruv is now live, kosher and ready to accommodate the growing community in Northeast Yonkers. “It is our hope that the sight of strollers with kids on their way to and from shul will quickly become the norm,” Rabbi Glasser said.

By Tamar Weinberg

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