Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


Leave a comment

The (In)Visible Boundaries of the Eruv – When Religion Goes Public

Part of the eruv in St Ives, incorporated into an existing electricity pole

Part of the eruv in St Ives, incorporated into an existing electricity pole

By Mareike Riedel

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

In May 2015 the Australian Jewish News reported proudly that Sydney’s second eruv, located in the Sydney North Shore neighbourhood of St Ives, had finally became functional. The eruv is a symbolic, almost invisible enclosure marked by existing demarcations and thin wires that facilitates Shabbat observance by virtually extending the private realm to the public space. During Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, the transport of objects outside of the domestic sphere is prohibited. This includes the pushing of prams, the carrying of keys or the use of a wheelchair. An eruv allows these things to be carried outside in public. Eruvin (Aramaic plural for eruv; modern Hebrew eruvim) exist in several cities in Australia (in Melbourne, Perth and in Sydney’s eastern suburbs), but also in Europe, North America, South Africa, and Israel. The establishment of Sydney’s second eruv marked the end of the almost decade-long struggle of the local Orthodox Jewish community to install this religious structure against the fierce opposition of a significant number of local residents, who portrayed the eruv as “out of place.”

Continue Reading →