Westhampton Beach's controversal, religious eruv has made it's way to the west coast. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times published an op/ed by Michael A. Helfand that asks the question, "An eruv in the Hamptons? Why not?"
The article brings up a lawsuit that was recently filed by the against the , the Long Island Power Authority and Verizon.
The suit claims that if an eruv is erected, it will infringe on their constitutional rights. The suit states specifically that an eruv, which is a religious boundary that allows Orthodox Jews to carry items they normally are not permitted to on the Sabbath, "would be a constant and ever-present symbol, message and reminder to the community at large that the secular public spaces in the village have been transformed for religious use and identity."
Helfand, who is an associate professor at the Pepperdine University School of Law and associate director of the Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies, argues to the contrary, stating, "It is hard to take seriously the claims of plaintiffs that a barely noticeable wire would transform a community; and it is particularly difficult to take seriously the claim that long-standing members of the Westhampton community would feel like outsiders if telephone cables and strings were used to allow Jews to carry keys and push strollers in the area."
Helfand goes on to chastise Arnold Sheiffer, head of the for past statements, including, "We [the Jewish people] fought like hell to get out of the ghetto, and now they want to create that again."
Helfand wrote, "It's hard to decide which justification is more troubling. For a community organizer to so blatantly proclaim that her upper-class neighborhood is not "for you" if "you" are an Orthodox Jew recalls language employed during some of the gloomiest periods of bias in our nation's history."
Helfand concluded the op/ed writing, "If we are to remain true to principles of equality, freedom and religious liberty, then we must protect religious groups and their ability to freely exercise their religion, even if that means fighting for a string."
To read the full op/ed posted in the LA Times, click here.
What do you think of Helfand's op/ed? Post a comment below.