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Jan 16, 2015 1:32 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Village Board Discusses Eruv In Closed-Door Meeting

Jan 21, 2015 9:42 AM

The Westhampton Beach Village Board held a closed-door meeting last week to discuss ongoing litigation concerning a special religious boundary that was established in the village five months ago.

The board convened the meeting at approximately 6:10 p.m. in the Village Hall meeting room, and then moved almost immediately into a closed-door executive session, relocating to chambers on the first floor.

On Friday morning, Mayor Maria Moore said the board discussed the recent U.S. Appeals Court ruling that the eruv—a religious boundary that allows Orthodox Jews to perform activities on the Sabbath or highly holy days that are otherwise forbidden, including carrying keys and pushing wheelchairs or strollers—does not constitute favoritism of Judaism over other religions. The court decision allows the eruv to remain in place.

Ms. Moore said the board made no decision about what action it would take in response to the decision, and she declined to say what the village’s options were. She added that attorneys for the village and the East End Eruv Association, the group that pushed for the establishment of the boundary, will conference with Judge Kathleen Tomlinson in U.S. District Court in Central Islip on Tuesday, January 27.

In June, Judge Tomlinson ruled that Westhampton Beach could not prevent the East End Eruv Association from establishing the eruv—even though the village never officially objected to its creation. She is still evaluating whether the eruv violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The Appeals Court decision was handed down on January 6 by Justices Dennis Jacobs, Reena Raggi and Debra Ann Livingston. The justices ruled that no “reasonable observer” would consider the creation of an eruv as an endorsement of Judaism by the village or any other governing body.

Village Board, DPW
Working On Contract

The Village Board held another special meeting on Monday night to discuss ongoing contract negotiations with its Department of Public Works labor union. This meeting was convened at 6:35 p.m. and also moved directly into executive session.

The union’s contract expired in May and discussions have been ongoing since before Mayor Conrad Teller left office in late June, Ms. Moore said. On Monday night, the board conferred with representatives from the Riverhead-based law firm Esseks, Hefter and Angel, its legal counsel, about the status of the ongoing negotiations.

“The trustees were informed of where we are now since the last meeting with the union,” Ms. Moore said, adding that she could not immediately recall the date of her previous, and thus far only, meeting with union representatives.

Ms. Moore said the board will hold its next meeting with union representatives on Tuesday, February 10.

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Dear Editor:

The Establishment Clause is in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, not the Second. See second to last paragraph of your article.

Thank you and have a nice day.
By New Guy in Town (10), Westhampton on Jan 16, 15 4:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Note to village board : the eruv has been up for months and the sky has not fallen. Stop wasting my tax dollars on a lawsuit that is unwinnable. Stop wasting real money on an imaginary line.
By winkelby (37), westhampton on Jan 17, 15 5:23 AM
Je Suis Juif. Stop the nonsense.
Why behind closed doors, this should be discussed with the full transparency . If its our money it's our business.
Let it go already .
By Shock (40), on Jan 17, 15 12:12 PM
I agree that the village should drop this, it's harmless. If these folks need to resort to tricks to feel better about evading the rules of the religion they follow, then let them. They are hurting no one, just deluding themselves...I mean how does one just pick and choose which parts of the word of God should be followed?
By Arnold Timer (306), Sag Harbor on Jan 17, 15 12:44 PM
2 members liked this comment
Been going on since the invention of religion. I lobbied for an eruv app, but that fell on deaf ears. Then again, I eat meat on Fridays, so clearly I'm a very, very bad individual.
I tell my kids all the time, "Go outside and look at the stars on a clear night. As far as you can see and as far as you can imagine, there is no other you. Now thank God for that."
That's the only religion I'll ever ask them to practice.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Jan 18, 15 3:34 PM
2 members liked this comment
It is not a freedom of speech issue, the issue is using utility company property
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Jan 17, 15 10:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Arnold Timer, have some respect. Most religions find ways for their followers...like getting marriages 'annulled" after 30 years? I mean..please get off your high horse and anyone else who feels the need to disparage the need to accept the Eruv. Grow up!
By Infoseeker (266), Hampton Bays on Jan 18, 15 7:57 AM
Look, you can't have it both ways. If you truly believe the Bible is God's word and you embrace a religion based on the Bible, then who are you to decide which part of God's word you shall believe and adhere to? It's God's word that you question?!? Resorting to dirty tricks to find a work around for the parts you find inconvenient is even more disingenuous and obnoxious.

Don't get me started on the Catholics and annulment. Anyone can purchase an annulment from the church. (See Hugh ...more
By Arnold Timer (306), Sag Harbor on Jan 19, 15 4:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Shock if I do not recall you were very vocal about this Mayor being more transparent than Teller. Why such a change of heart now?
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Jan 18, 15 11:52 AM
Beachbme11978 do not put words in my mouth, read what I wrote this is a question when , all the litigation concerning the Eruv is on the village website why are they discussing this behind closed doors .
By Shock (40), on Jan 18, 15 12:55 PM
Arnold Timer...who made you the Religion police? Your personal opinion is valid for you, but for those who follow religious philosophies and who find great satisfaction from them would have to disagree. For many it is a haven and comfort. There us great hypocracy in life and how we treat our fellow man. Religious institutions are not the only area where this is so, but I am not going to go off on other tangents to prove my point.
By Infoseeker (266), Hampton Bays on Jan 20, 15 8:22 AM