Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv Chairman Arnold Sheiffer
West Hampton, NY - A renewed push for a symbolic Jewish boundary on the East End has sparked a bitter battle between supporters of the religious marker and opponents who brand it divisive.
Led by Manhattan attorney Marvin Tenzer, an Orthodox Jewish group is lobbying to install the boundary—known as an eruv—in West Hampton Beach, Quiogue and parts of Quogue and greater West Hampton.
Demarcated by translucent wire strung along the tops of telephone poles, the eruv serves as a symbolic extension of the Jewish home and allows Orthodox Jews to perform certain outdoor tasks on the Sabbath, such as pushing strollers.
Opponents argue that an eruv would gradually lead to an Orthodox annexation of the East End enclave.
The issue has sparked massive controversies in other areas, including Tenafly, NJ, where eruv supporters prevailed after a seven-year legal battle.
Tenzer, who has already mapped out the roughly five-square-mile area of the eruv and plans to push ahead with the project in the coming months, called the loud opposition alarmist and possibly anti-Semitic.
“Putting up the eruv is not splitting the community; the opposition to it is,” Tenzer said. “There is no downside to it. People won’t even see it. That is what is so egregious about the opposition here. Maybe there is some element of anti-Semitism. I don’t know.”
But Arnold Sheiffer, a Westhampton resident and vocal opponent of the eruv plan, scoffed at Tenzer’s claims.
“There is enormous opposition to it here,” he said. “In the end, this is an effort to contravene the wishes of the vast majority of people who live here.”
Sheiffer, who is Jewish and organized a group called Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv, blasted Tenzer’s claims of anti-Semitism. “We have Holocaust survivors here who are opposed to this,” he said. “That is a ridiculous claim.”
Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller said he found the eruv effort unsavory. “This is divisive,” he said. “We are a small seaside community where people have always got along. This is dividing us.”