Lona O’Connor – Palm Beach Post
Three men wearing yarmulkes hop out of a minivan. They look up, squinting at something only they can see. They confer, hop back in the van and drive away.
They are checking breaches in the boundaries of an eruv, an area of about 12 square miles around Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Boynton Beach. Inside the eruv, observant Jews can carry things outdoors on the Sabbath. Carrying, considered a form of work, is prohibited outside the home on the Sabbath – except when an eruv effectively enlarges what is “home.”
But the eruv has been breached. One of its strings broke in a storm, so prayer books, strollers, even carrying a present to a birthday party on a Saturday – none of that is permissible until it is fixed.
Several weeks ago, an urgent notice popped up on the Web site of Chabad Lubavitch: “The Eruv is DOWN! Please check this Web site each weekend for status of the eruv. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”
Rabbi Shmuel Mayer of Chabad of Boca Raton is the eruv maven called in to correct the breaches in the Boynton Beach eruv. His minivan contains a heavy surveyor’s tripod as thick as a young tree trunk. He can use the tripod, and sometimes a plumb laser, to verify that the vertical lines of the eruv are perfectly straight.
He stands on the bank of a canal, ponders for a few seconds and then pronounces how to extend the eruv in the least troublesome way.
When he and his two helpers from Chabad Lubavitch stop on Military Trail, they discover that utility workers have truncated three poles that are part of their eruv. Mayer kneads his temples to squeeze out a solution.
“Aside from this problem, which is humongous, let’s see what else,” he says.
Since the eruv went down, Suri Spolter has stayed home on Sabbath days with her youngest, Ari, 31/2 months old. Her daughter Bailey, 3, and son Simcha, 2, can walk the half-mile to services with her husband. Her family is among the 600 in the congregation.
“Just the socializing, just to be with the other mothers, and let the kids run around a little bit,” she says wistfully.
On Thursday afternoon, the Web site brings bad tidings.
“The Eruv is still down and not fit for use. Our estimated time for its completion, at this juncture, will be in another two weeks.”