Fight brews between Orthodox community and Mahwah residents
A dispute between the Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland County, New York and the residents of Mahwah is coming to a head.
Members of the Orthodox community have made a deal with Rockland Electric to place eruv on utility poles, which are extending into Mahwah.
Eruv are used by the Orthodox to mark off a border. On one side of the border, religious rules are relaxed. On the other side, the rules are stricter.
Mahwah officials say that this makes them signposts.
“I don’t like them here,” says Mahwah resident Andrew Rahimi. “I see it as staking of turf so to speak.”
Rahimi says that he is Jewish himself, but doesn’t think the eruv should be placed in town.
“Nobody asked for these to go up,” he says. “When you have people who don’t even live in the same state paying for it to go up, I think that’s abusing a freedom that the utility company allows.”
News 12 New Jersey found some eruv that seemed to have been vandalized. Pieces of the pipe were torn from the fittings on the utility poles, while other pieces were strewn on the ground.
“I see what this community has done to the school district in Rockland, and also settlements in Lakewood, New Jersey where it’s not about religion,” Rahimi says.
Mahwah officials have sent a letter to the group behind the eruv, according to media reports. The letter asked the group to take them down because they are violating zoning rules.
Rockland Electric says the eruv are allowed, legal and are pole attachments, not signs.
“You can’t get on the pole without a filling out an application and paying a fee,” says Rockland Electric spokesman Michael Donovan.
But members of the Mahwah community tell News 12 that the eruv are a concern. One member of the township council says that he expects a large crowd at the upcoming town council meeting.
News 12 reached out to Rockland Eruv which appears to be the umbrella organization encompassing the South Monsey Eruv Fund, but calls for comment were not returned.