By COLlive reporter
Hours before Shabbos, a Brooklyn rabbi whose congregation built the new Greater Crown Heights Eruv is rescinding his support from it, but says he stands by the expert who created it.
Rabbi Elkanah Schwartz, the Boro Park resident who is the pulpit rabbi of the historic Congregation Kol Israel in Prospect Heights, stated that he is “not certifying or endorsing the Eruv in Crown Heights.”
His handwritten letter comes in response to an uproar among Chassidic residents of Crown Heights who pointed out that the Beis Din of the neighborhood is opposed to having an Eruv locally.
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.
Crown Heights Rabbis argued that creating an Eruv in the neighborhood with a central intersection like Eastern Parkway wouldn’t be in accordance with the rulings of the Alter Rebbe‘s Shulchan Aruch, which Chabad follows.
A WhatsApp message being shared on Friday in Rabbi Schwartz’s name that he will “take down the Eiruv” isn’t true, he told COLlive.com in a phone conversation.
“I never made the Eruv,” he said. “The shul wanted to make an Eruv and I endorsed the expert, like you use a mohel or shochet. It’s like someone from the shul wanting to use a caterer and asking me if he’s reliable (kashrus-wise).”
What changed now, Rabbi Schwartz said, is that “I withdrew my certification of the Eruv, not of the expert [who built it].”
He said what led him to make this decision was a phone conversation with Rabbi Braun who stated that an Eruv must be done with the consent of the local rabbonim. “He recorded our conversation,” Rabbi Schwartz said.
He later got another call from Rabbi Shlomo Segal, a dayan from the Crown Heights Beis Din. “I told him that I already spoke to the Beis Din. I got an education that there are 2 Batei Din in Crown Heights,” Rabbi Schwartz said.
“At the request of Rabbi Segal, R’ Shmuel Pevzner visited me and I wrote him a note and he then filmed me on his phone,” the elder rabbi added.
Explaining the confusion over his statements, Rabbi Schwartz said: “It’s complicated and simple. The question was about my involvement with this. Now everyone can make their own inference and choose what to do.”
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.
An “Eruv Committee” is composed of members of the Orthodox sunagogues Kol Israel and the Prospect Heights Shul: Michael Chasan, Naftali Hanau, David Katz and Kol Israel longtime activist Abe Haspel.
Earlier on Friday, Hanau told COLlive that the Eruv was built by the lay leadership of Kol Israel with the guidance of an Eruv expert. He (and Rabbi Schwartz) would not name the rabbi because of fears of badgering.
In a public letter last month, Rabbi Leibel Groner, who served as the Rebbe’s secretary for over 40 years, called on “all Anash and Temimim should discard this idea,” citing the Rebbe’s opposition to the idea despite its conveniences.
+ Crown Heights Eruv Is Officially Up
+ 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?