Orthodox Jewish Community And Mahwah Residents At War Over Orders To Remove The Eruv


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The town of Mahwah, New Jersey has ordered the removal of an Eruv, and the decision is garnering strong support from local residents.

On Friday, township officials delivered a letter ordering the removal of the Eruv – constructed to allow the town’s Jewish residents to carry items outside on Shabbos – on the basis of violating the town’s sign ordinances. The letter set August 4 as the deadline for the removal.

The Eruv was constructed by the South Monsey Eruv Fund, a group from the much larger Jewish community in nearby Monsey, New York, that has been constructing Eruvs in surrounding towns to accommodate the expanding community.

Mike Kelly, the town’s engineer, wrote the white PVC pipes used to install the Eruv on utility poles constitute a sign. Signs are prohibited on trees, rocks or utility poles in the township.

The South Monsey Eruv Fund informed the Associated Press that they had been granted permission by the utility company to hang the Eruv on it’s poles. Nonetheless, the town is using the sign ordinance as a means to force the Eruv’s removal.

“Our elected responsibilities are to serve the public and enforce the laws of the Township of Mahwah, Mayor Bill Laforet said. “This sends a very strong message to those who choose to violate our sign ordinances.”

Meanwhile, on Monday night, more than 200 town residents turned out for a meeting in support of the township’s decision.

Mahwah Strong, a Facebook group that organized the meeting, will serve as a check and balance for Mahwah to enforce its ordinances, said creator Robert Ferguson.

The group has amassed 3,000 members in just six days.

“I don’t view this as a hostile takeover of the town,” Ferguson said of the Monsey group. “All I want is for them to follow the law and stay within the bounds of the ordinances that exist.”

Additionally, more than 1,200 people have signed an online petition calling for the Eruv to be taken down. The petition, titled “Protect the Quality of our Community in Mahwah,” was shut down by it’s organizer after many hateful comments were left on the page. Several comments refer to “these people,” and express concerns about falling property values. Most of them are anonymous.

“I don’t want these rude, nasty, dirty people who think they can do what they want in our nice town,” one of the comments reads.

Another says: “I do not want the town of Mahwah to turn into an undesirable place to live. These people do not assimilate with other people outside their community. I do not want them controlling our school board and siphoning funds for their yeshivas. Also, they buy houses which they claim is for religious purposes and do not pay taxes. They should stay where they are and leave our town alone.”

Two other towns located within the eruv — Montvale and Upper Saddle River — are taking action similar to Mahwah’s.

On Monday, Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali said he had issued a stop-order letter to the Monsey group weeks ago.

“According to our ordinance, we don’t allow signs of any kind on our poles,” said Ghassali.

So far, he said, the group has complied with the order. But if the installation of pipes continues into the borough, he said Montvale is prepared to remove them and issue a summons.

An attorney for Upper Saddle River made similar demands in a July 18 letter to Orange & Rockland Utilities, which granted the Monsey group permission to install the piping on its poles in March. The borough is insisting that the pipes be removed immediately.

Photo of the Mahwah Eruv:

The Town of Mahwah, NJ and nearby Monsey, NY, Upper Saddle River and Montvale, NJ

(Nat Golden – YWN)


  1. I’m sure there are many nice qualities of the people of Mahwah NJ but let me focus in on this part of the story, “I don’t want these rude, nasty, dirty people who think they can do what they want in our nice town,” To the people of Mahwah its time to judge yourselves and do a self-EVAL to make sure you are totally innocent. Do you curse? Do you bring in disgusting toeiva to your homes? Are you modest in your homes? What kind of movies are spewing out from your cable lines. TO the people of Mahwah you are probably not rude – I think you have one up on us as we are the ones with the Chutzpah… (not rude but maybe that’s how U translate it, Ok I’ll let that one go) But are u not nasty? dirty? Do you think dirt is only what is seen on the outside? TO the PEOPLE of Mahwah…go clean out your homes from the trash that eats away at the structure spiritually.

  2. The objection to wires on a utility pole by the Township of Mahwah is clearly an act of anti-Semitism. Yes, I suppose a wire eruv is a “sign” in some sense, telling the filthy Jews (of which I am one) that they can do their Saturday weirdness within the area indicated by the wire “sign”, but it is not a sign in the usual sense. Some of the signs I have seen on utility poles are for lost puppies and kittens, or tutors, or piano lessons, or “cash-for-cars” businesses, or moving services. They are usually paper and are easily removed. They might even be unsightly. But a wire on a utility pole? That’s what utility poles are for, and if it’s ok with the pole owners, the municipality should butt out.

    I would bet that Mahwah’s X-ian clergy would support the eruv as a matter of religious principle. Or will Mahwah ask them to pull down their reindeer in December?

  3. I find great irony in this. Freedom of religion by its very nature requires Freedom from religion. Alas as is always the case, some seek to abuse the privileges they have been granted in our system.

    We do not need a Temple Mount / Holy Sanctuary debate in this country. Practice your faith as you see fit to in your own home, but do not for a moment believe that those who do NOT believe are obligated to indulge your beliefs.

    Otherwise some other group of religiously indoctrinated folks might claim the same rights! We have had our fair share of burning crosses in this country, and recognize them as the poison they are. Religion is a PRIVATE matter. Your beliefs are not supported by the majority, but they are tolerated. Once one parades them into the public square, you are held to the standards of that community.

    And please, if you do not like our culture, feel free to leave at any time, but remember that of ALL the countries in the world we have shown the most tolerance towards your unique lifestyle.

    I suggest you choose you battles wisely. In todays atmosphere our traditional posture of tolerance is being strained. If you think this is an isolated battle, I can assure you it isn’t. You advise them to “clean their home” yet fail to recognize that is exactly what they are doing

    And rest assured, if you attempt to FORCE the issue, you will lose.

  4. WCD,

    You make some good points.

    I think a valid point was made above as well- why is a pvc pipe attached to a utility pole more a “sign” than the multitudes of religious decorations that go up in November, December on an annual basis?

    And what are you trying to say by referencing the temple mount issue?

    I think you hate Jews just like the rest of them and merely try to SOUND civil.

  5. to WCD.
    #1Calm down.
    #2 now think for a moment.
    “but do not for a moment believe that those who do NOT believe are obligated to indulge your beliefs”
    I fail to see any logic in your ramble. who is trying to force you to “indulge” in any beliefs. Why in the world is puting a wire, which is a mundane object, putting religion in your face?? to you it means nothing, and it could stay that way if YOU want. Besides its being put on telephone poles, why do you care about one more wire??
    It is obvious, that this is case of religious intolerance, which is unconstitutional, and will lose in the courts of law.
    Its a good idea to think it through before going farther, because mark my words, your going to loose big time, rather stop now while you are still ahead.

  6. Nonsense.

    All religious displays on public land are banned on a FEDERAL level. As far as losing, I look forward to seeing the trial.

    At last check, the decisions in similar matters are currently at 127 to 0 in favor of the forced removal of religious displays. You see we have fought these battles with the other religions as well, not only yours. The use of public land violates the “Endorsement Clause” as decided on dozens of occasions over the past 175 years.

    You can not, and will not use public land for ANY religious display!

    But thanks for playing!

  7. Mo

    I endeavor to dislike all equally, and you could rest assured if the display was Christian in nature I would be even more vehement. Because of the numbers of Christians I personally find them the much greater threat.

    As for the Temple Mount comment, it merely references what religion has done to your homelands! Each belief system laying claim to something based on superstition and naiveté!. Faith is merely a rational for ethno-centricisim, which is used as justification for genocide, murder, slavery, bigotry, racism, misogyny, homophobia and war.

  8. WCD
    The only nonsense is your use of the term, “we have fought these battles.” I am positive that you have fought nothing, but only spew your venom from behind screen names and such.
    Your hatred does not allow you to see the fallacy of your arguments. As I mentioned an eruv is not a religious symbol at all. In fact no court supports your claim. Therefore, all your arguments to the contrary are moot. You see “we” have fought the likes of you, and have won every single time. The fact is that the opposition to eruvin have lost every court battle there was. I suggest that prior to you shooting your mouth off on subjects that you know little about, you research the subject.

  9. I suggest you are somewhat out gunned

    Would you care to debate US Constitutional Establishment Clause decisions over the past 150 years?

    Start with Engel v. Vitale – 370 U.S. 421 (1962).

    Then focus on the specifics of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 91 S. Ct. 2105 – (1971)

    I shall gladly grade you. I suspect you will fail, but I will find it amusing.

    Perhaps you may be speaking of the Law in Palestine, but certainly not here in the United States.

  10. WCD: you’re both haughty and foolish. Stop for one second and reread what thinker123 said: an eiruv is not a Jewish symbol, therefore the cases you mention have absolutely no bearing to this discussion! Rather your hatred for everybody is clouding any logic you may posses. Take a deep breath, step back, and think where you hatred is coming from. Remember that atheism is an ideology just like theism is, it is a life style that you have chosen to live with, but most of the world hasn’t.
    Moreover, by your perception of the world you and you friends are the one pushing their worldviews on the masses not the other way around. In today’s day and age in the Western civilizations religion is under attack not the other way around. Moreover, you atheist know nothing about theism. If you would say some insightful things about natural theology I would love to respond, whereas all your spewing is hatred and stupidity. What’s more, your ignorance knows no bounds, by mimicking the silly atheist attack that religion makes wars etc. you’re showing that you don’t care about historical facts. Neither Stalin or Hitler was religious, yet they were bigger monsters than any religious figures in recent times.
    The issue is not religion, the issue is yourself.

  11. WCD
    Yes, genius, I do care to debate the Establishment Clause:  Recent Supreme Court decisions, however, have not applied the Lemon test.   Instead, in cases involving Establishment Clause challenges to private individuals’ use of government resources, the Court has applied the endorsement test developed by Justice O’Connor, which dispenses with the “entanglement” prong of the Lemon test and collapses its “purpose” and “effect” prongs into a single inquiry:  would a reasonable, informed observer, i.e., one familiar with the history and context of private individuals’ access to the public money or property at issue, perceive the challenged government action as endorsing religion?  See Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, –U.S. , 122 S.Ct. 2460, 2468-69, 153 L.Ed.2d 604 (2002) (upholding school voucher program where 96% of participating students attended religiously affiliated schools because parents’ genuine and independent choices determined where children went to school);  Good News Club v. Milford Cent. Sch., 533 U.S. 98, 117-19, 121 S.Ct. 2093, 150 L.Ed.2d 151 (2001) (maintaining that Establishment Clause did not require public school to bar evangelical Christian student group from using facilities accessed by various other groups);  Capitol Square Review & Advisory Bd. v. Pinette, 515 U.S. 753, 763, 115 S.Ct. 2440, 132 L.Ed.2d 650 (1995) (relying on the endorsement analysis in Lamb’s Chapel to hold that Establishment Clause did not require state to prevent private group from erecting cross on statehouse grounds, a traditional public forum);  Lamb’s Chapel, 508 U.S. at 395, 113 S.Ct. 2141 (reciting the Lemon test but relying primarily on the endorsement test to hold that the Establishment Clause did not prohibit school district from letting evangelical church group use publicly available school facilities to show film series on Christian family values);  see also ACLU of N.J. v. Schundler, 168 F.3d 92, 103, 105-07 (3d Cir.1999) (noting that Justice O’Connor’s endorsement test is the governing standard and applying it to uphold government-sponsored holiday display against Establishment Clause attack).   Each of these decisions upheld the challenged government action because it treated religion neutrally, and thus would not be viewed by a reasonable, informed observer as endorsing religion.
    Oh, so I would gladly grade you, but you know what, I won’t wast my time since you are nothing more than a despicable hater doing some armchair lawyering to further your malevolence.
    So please get it through your thick skull, The Establishment Clause has been inveighed against eruvin many times, and not once has it been accepted by the courts to negate an eruv. You are simply out of your league, so go back to you pitiful hole.