New Jersey Township Withdraws Bid to Ban Construction on Symbolic Jewish Boundary

Mahwah Township Council measure would have prohibited the posting on utility poles of 'other matter.' According to Jewish law, the eruv allows Jews to push and carry objects outside their homes on the Sabbath and holy days

Thin PVC piping is seen on an utility pole August 5, 2017,as a vehicle drives by on Airmount Road in Mahwah, N.J., which has stirred worries that an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community plans to expand.
Julio Cortez/AP

A New Jersey township has rescinded a proposed ordinance that would have prevented the construction of an eruv.

The Mahwah Township Council voted Thursday night to withdraw a measure that would have prohibited the posting on utility poles of “other matter,” which would include the white PVC pipes used to demarcate the artificial boundary. According to Jewish law, the eruv allows Jews to push and carry objects outside their homes on the Sabbath and holy days.

The council also repealed an ordinance to rescind a ban on non-state residents using the township’s parks. Instead it introduced an ordinance that would allow “residents and non-residents alike” to use township parks.

In October, the state sued Mahwah over the ordinances, which it says illegally targeted Jews. Another lawsuit was filed by the Eruv Association, which puts up and maintains the eruv, against the Bergen County town and nearby Upper Saddle River and Montvale for illegally “inhibiting Jews from practicing their religion.”

Township Attorney Brian Chewcaskie said at the meeting that legal counsel had recommended the Township Council rescind the ordinances as a “strategic move” in order to counter the lawsuit, according to northjersey.com. Council members were instructed not to comment on the vote or the lawsuit, according to the report.

Residents of Mahwah, which borders New York state, had expressed concern that the eruv would bring an influx of haredi Orthodox Jews to the community. They also claimed it would change the character of the township and its services.