CBS2 HD reports: NY State Gov. David Paterson pleaded for religious tolerance Saturday during a speech at a Long Island synagogue.
The governor made his remarks to an Orthodox congregation in Westhampton Beach that is trying to win village approval to erect a symbolic enclosure called an eruv — a territory usually marked by small plastic symbols affixed to utility poles.
The markers are nearly invisible to those passing by, but to Orthodox Jews they are a big convenience. Within the boundaries, they may engage in activities like pushing strollers or carrying packages that would be otherwise prohibited during the Sabbath, which begins at sundown Friday and ends at nightfall Saturday.
Paterson expressed his support for the idea Saturday during his speech at the Hampton Synagogue.
“I am hoping we can bring tolerance and understanding to the desire of those who want to erect the eruv right here in the Hamptons,” he told more than 800 people attending a morning service.
The synagogue’s rabbi, Marc Schneier, temporarily suspended the request after some residents complained it would change the village’s character.
One an ad published in a local weekly newspaper said that the eruv, which would cover one-third of the village’s 3 square miles, “will proclaim us an Orthodox Jewish community for all time.” A few others said it violated a separation between church and state.
The Westhampton Beach mayor has said he has no problem with creating an eruv, but Schneier said he wanted to put off the formal request until the fall. Schneier has called a community meeting later this month on the subject.
“I might stop by,” Paterson said. “I want people to know there is a new sheriff in town,” Paterson said, as the congregation stood and applauded.
The Orthodox synagogue’s year-round population is about 100, but the population swells to 800 in the summer, many who are not Orthodox, congregant Glenn Dorskind said.
Schneier on Friday said the controversy threatened his community’s civil rights to religious freedom.
“I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be fighting a civil rights battle in my own backyard for my own community,” he said.