By Stacey Dresner
SPRINGFIELD/LONGMEADOW – In a move to enhance Jewish life in Springfield and Longmeadow and to make the area more desirable to potential Jewish residents, Springfield’s eruv has been expanded.
An eruv is a ritual enclosure constructed so Jewish residents can carry certain objects outside their own homes on Shabbat. An eruv integrates private and public properties into one larger private domain, lifting restrictions on carrying objects from the private to the public domain on Sabbath and High Holidays.
“Over the last millennia the rabbis asked questions about these particular laws – what is a private domain? What is a public domain? And ultimately they developed a system called an eruv, which essentially transforms a public domain into a private domain, thereby permitting carrying on the Sabbath,” explained Rabbi Max Davis of Congregation B’nai Torah in Longmeadow. “The concept of a municipal eruv is relatively recent. In the last 30 years doing an eruv on a city-wide scale has become much more prevalent.”
The Springfield Eruv was formed in June 2006 by Mayer Kahan, who has since left the community. “He went to the sheriff and for a few dollars – symbolic — obtained carrying rights for the Jewish community,” Rabbi Davis explained. “We acquired rights from Springfield, Longmeadow, and East Longmeadow for 99 years literally to carry on the Sabbath.”
The boundary for the Springfield eruv used to be Converse Street, said Rabbi Davis, who has spearheaded the effort to expand the eruv for the past three years.
“That did not include all of the institutions on the north side, such as Georgetown Apartments, the Jewish Nursing Home and Genesis House, Ruth’s House, Temple Beth El,” he explained. “The expansion brought all of those institutions into it, as well as the Tiffany Street neighborhood.”
“This enables, within the Orthodox community, pushing strollers, carrying keys, bringing food over for a potluck – all of the above,” Rabbi Davis explained. “Within the Orthodox community there is an appreciation for it, because there is the recognition that to grow an Orthodox community these days, an eruv is essential. For families looking at different communities there are so many options now that there is seldom a reason to consider moving to a community without an eruv. Dalia and I moved here four years ago and an eruv was essential. So it has real community growth potential.”