The eruv — that ethereal yet physical boundary enabling observant Jews to push strollers and use wheelchairs on Shabbat — fosters community even as it sparks tensions.
Before the Internet Age rendered geography irrelevant to community there was the eruv, the rabbinic response to spatial separation. A strategically placed wire here, a natural hedge border there, the inclusion of a fence or a highway, turns a neighborhood into an imaginary walled community of halachic intent, as such a deliberate remembrance of pre-diasporic Jerusalem.
In 1971, Ronald Brown visited Prague for the first time and was disturbed by what he saw at the famous 500-year-old Charles Bridge: a centuries-old crucifixion statue framed by one of Judaism's most sacred prayers. The then-25-year-old rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College was upset by the symbolism of the Hebrew inscription in relation to the cross. The quote was taken from the prophet Isaiah ("Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts") which the angels chant to praise God, according to Jewish tradition.
The New York Synagogue, a Modern Orthodox congregation on Manhattan's East Side that opened in a rented space three years ago as an affiliate of The Hampton Synagogue on Long Island, has purchased the building on East 58th Street where it has met, and will renovate the site into a full-time synagogue in about a year.
The New York Board of Rabbis held its annual sermon seminar last week to permit rabbis to share ideas for their High Holy Days sermons. Rabbi Marc Schneier of The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, L.I., and president of the board, chaired the discussion featuring spiritual leaders from all movements.
Jewish Week: What will be some of the themes of sermons this year?