Moish travels to the dark side

Friday, March 11, 2011

Moish travels to the dark side

Just now noticed Hampton Synagogue Presi­dent Morris Tuchman's letter to The Jewish Week taking correspondent Stewart Ain to task for the tone of his January report, "Eruv Suit In Hamptons Fueling New Tensions."

(See: OtBB entry"The 'Net is alive...")

Using the familiar "Moish," Tuchman writes:

"...Ain trivializes the needs of observant Jews for an eruv by describing observant Jews hiring non-Jews to push their baby carriages, strollers and wheelchairs so they could attend synagogue on Shabbat."

You can call me a dumb goy since I don't see the "trivializing," but I won't quibble. Here's the meat of his letter:

"Paying a non-Jew to push strollers and wheelchairs is normally not permitted. 'Amira Leakum1' (asking a non-Jew to vio­late the Shabbat for a Jew) is permitted only in restricted circumstances.

The reason that the lawsuit mentions this 'cost' (after saying 'when permitted') is as an element of the damages suffered by the defendants' violation of the plaintiffs" con­stitutional and statutory rights."

There ya go, "cost" and "damages!"

Never mind the Sword of Damocles West­hampton Beach (as well as Quogue and Southampton Town) finds suspended above the heads of their elected officials.

There's also the (sledge) hammer of that expensive E³A lawsuit.

My own position on the granting of an applica­tion establishing an eruv has changed over the past three years, from:

"What's the harm?"

"Sure, as soon as Rabbi Marc Schneier formally apologies to the entire Village for heaping opprobrium on Westhampton Beach because Fire Marshal Dennis Coch­ran was doing his job.")

Many here today have no idea what happened back in 1990-91 when Rabbi Schneier rented that private resident at 75 Mill Road and turned it into a place of public assembly, the first "Hampton Synagogue."

(The full details of that particular time have been on OtBB simmer since Sum­mer 2008, awaiting the Rabbi's novation of his application.)

Now, my feelings about an eruv for all or part of the Village have evolved considerably, and comes down to this:

Why would the hardened Orthodox-observant come to this area and brandish legal action if residents, Jew and Gentile alike, don't bow to their demands?

I don't "get it," and never have.

Long before an eruv chatzerot was proposed in the Village, even while Hampton Synagogue was still operating out of Martha Bergeron's house on Mill Road, some of the congregants seemed determined to be confrontational in their dealings with local businesses.

This set an unfortunate tone, but one which was slowly overcome... until the wasted prom­ise of August 2008's "Informational Meeting" when lead speaker Joel Cohen spat in the face of the majority of those who attended.

(While Cohen pedaled his bicycle out of town shortly after that, the hard feelings have remained.)

Moish Tuchman was on the dais that evening and while he was mostly silent, he had always seemed a reasonable man near the center of a difficult situation.

It is unfortunate to see that he gone to the more militant side of the eruvians.

Of course, he may have always been in that camp, but I was always sorry that it was not he instead of Cohen who led that meeting.

It may not have changed enough residents' minds about an eruv, but there certainly would have been a lot less enmity about the issue.

  1. The preferred term seems to be "Amira L'Akum."


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