By COLlive reporter
A historic synagogue in Brooklyn is behind the construction of the “Greater Crown Heights Eruv” in hopes to attract young Jewish families to the area.
Members of Congregation Kol Israel in Prospect Heights put the final touches on the Eruv this week to enable local Jews to carry freely on Shabbos.
The Eruv is part of 5 Eruvin that cover Brownstone Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Windsor Terrace, and now Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Crown Heights.
All 3 members of the Crown Heights Beis Din (Badatz), Rabbis Avraham Osdoba, Yaacov Schwei and Yosef Braun, voiced their objections in recent months to an Eruv being built locally citing various reasons.
The new Eruv runs on the north along Pacific Street, continuing on the east down Buffalo Avenue, along a part of Rockaway Parkway and Ruthland Road to Utica Avenue. On the south, it crosses Clarkson Avenue to Washington Avenue on the west.
Speaking to COLlive.com on Friday, Kol Israel’s Rabbi Elkanah Schwartz said the members of his synagogue built the Eruv “because they feel (that) as least those that want to carry, won’t be desecrating Shabbos.”
Asked how he reconciled that with the opposition of Crown Heights rabbis, Rabbi Schwartz said the Eruv was created for “those not part of the Chabad community.”
He deferred additional questions to the “Eruv Committee” of Kol Israel and the Prospect Heights Shul: Michael Chasan, Naftali Hanau, David Katz and Kol Israel longtime activist Abe Haspel.
Kol Israel was founded in 1924 and is the oldest continuously practicing Orthodox community in Prospect Heights. It is frequented by “Chassidic to Modern Orthodox to just plain curious,” according to their website.
Hanau, who grew up in Rochester, NY, says his father, a physician, would walk without water on sunny Shabbos days to visit patients because the local Eruv was yet to be constructed.
“Now, those in our community going to do rounds can take water with them,” says Hanau, a coordinator of the Eruv Committee in Brooklyn.
SUNY Downstate Medical Center is just outside the new Eruv border, but the Kings County Hospital Center is included in it.
Hanau said he felt sorry that the new Eruv, which has been in the works for several years, is the subject of controversy among the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Crown Heights.
“I understand that some don’t like it,” Hanau told COLlive.com. “We’re not trying to antagonize and not trying to change anyone’s way of life. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it.”
Hanau said the Eruv was intended “for our shul,” citing some 15-20 families who live within the borders of the new Crown Heights Eruv. “We’ve been here since the 1920s. It has nothing to do with them,” he added, referring to the neighboring Chassidic community.
Chevra Ahavas Yisroel, a modern Orthodox congregation in Crown Heights, announced the new Eruv on Facebook. But Hanau said they had no relationship with them, adding that it’s possible some of their members contributed individually.
“The Eruv is very expensive to check and upkeep,” he said. “It is incumbent on those using the Eruv to support the Eruv financially.”
A weekly update on the eruv status of the Kol Israel Eruv, Brower Park Eruv and Greater Crown Heights Eruv will be sent by ckibrooklyn.org/eruv.
Update, 2:45 pm:
Naftali Hanau of the Eruv committee stated that a message being shared on WhatsApp messaging service about the suspension of the Eruv is “absolutely false.”
The message, supposedly signed by Rabbi Schwartz, who is in his late 70’s and lives in Boro Park, claims that he will “take down the Eiruv, and rebuild it only with clear permission from the Crown Heights Rabbis.”
“I just spoke to Rabbi Schwartz, and he never wrote such a thing,” Hanau told COLlive.com. “The eruv is a project of Congregation Kol Israel and any statement regarding this will be made by them.”
The Eruv was built by the lay leadership of Kol Israel with the guidance of an Eruv expert, Hanau said. He would not name the rabbi because of fears of badgering.
+ Rav Osdoba Clarifies; Forbids Eruv
+ I Have an Eruv, But Don’t Use It
+ Rabbi Osdoba Doesn’t Rule Out Eruv
+ Rabbi Groner: Rebbe Opposed Eruv
+ Rabbi Levin: No Basis For Eruv
+ Why No Eruv in Crown Heights?