Hampton Synagogue Hypocrisy?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Hampton Synagogue Hypocrisy?

While the question posed here last week, "Is the Eruv valid?," remains unaddressed, an E-mail dated July 10, 2015 over the joint signatures of Hampton Synagogue President Morris Tuchman and Rabbi Marc Schneier raises the issue of the integrity of their original approach to the Westhampton Beach Village Board in early 2008.

Recall that attorney Robert G. Sugarman, acting on behalf of the synagogue, in a letter to the Village dated October 19, 2008, firmly stated that for an eruv to be valid, two conditions must be met:

  1. A proclamation delineating and "renting" the area for use as an eruv from a public official whose jurisdiction includes the area in which the eruv is to be constructed.
  2. The physical construction of the eruv must com­ply with the requirements of Jewish law.

The latter condition was where the matter first became murky, for the Village Board was initially shown something like a four-foot furring strip, followed a month later by a six-inch piece of plastic, the lechis to be mounted on utility poles.

(And, unless it was issued sub rosa, the necessary proclamation does not exist.)

While Rabbi Schneier suspended the synagogue's efforts following the embarrassment of the August 2008 "Informa­tional Meeting," clearly Schneier, Tuchman et al still want­ed their eruv and were likely pleased when 28 months later the East End Eruv Association launched their efforts to establish an even larger symbolic religious area.

Jump forward past the 4½ years of legal proceedings and posturing, to 11 weeks ago when Schneier and Tuckman sent an E-mail under the caption "WHB Eruv Ready for Expansion"

"A State Supreme Court decision this week paves the way for an expansion of the WHB Eruv, which residents there have enjoyed for a year...."

This formal announcement that an "eruv" was already in place in Westhampton Beach1 came as a surprise to many, as did the suggestion that the larger area E³A version was riding on Hampton Synagogue's coattails.

A second part of the E-mail read:

"We expect to now get licenses from LIPA and Verizon and to expand the Whb{sic} Eruv to Westhampton and Quiogue."

This, for the first time, directly aligns Hampton Synagogue and E³A not just in objectives, but as working associates... something representatives of E³A took pains to deny when the group first surfaced.

From Hampton Synagogue's testimony as to the actual size and construction of the lechi devices, to the routine re-drawing of the boundaries of the eruv proposed by E³A, the rules of the game have continually been changed2 by the proponents.

A key question must be whether Rabbi Schneier is himself redefining the requirements for a halachic boundary, or tacitly admitting that Hampton Synagogue's 2008 re­quest to the Village was fraught with misrepresentation?

  1. No offer of proof in the form of the required proc­la­ma­tion has ever been presented.
  2. Perhaps on the principle that it's harder to hit a moving target.


1. Hampton West said...

I have looked; no lechies!

I even saw an individual on Mill Road near the high school looking up at the ploes; since he was wearing a yarmulke I assumed he was looking for signs of the eruv. I asked "See anything?" He responded, "Nothing on this pole."

I have my doubts. Question. Do they need to pay rent to the utility?

After undertaking a search of my own last Winter, aided by directions from a mole close to the synagogue, and finding nothing like a lechi anywhere, my own conclusion is that the Westhampton Beach eruv is a fiction.

Don't know about any rent, but if there is any, it's probably nominal, something like one dollar per Millennium.

2. Barbara Ramsay said...

Isn't the whole idea of the eruv so they can cheat at their own religion? Totally bizarre....

You see this so clearly!

Which leads me to wonder why, if the Rabbi can unilaterally declare a certain area around the synagogue an eruv (which is what he seems to have done at this point), why he didn't just do this from the jump and spare everyone the ill-will and divisiveness?

Of course that approach wouldn't have generated any headlines....
– Dean

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