Plans to create a mostly invisible Jewish religious boundary in Westhampton Beach are alive and kicking, though a new nonprofit group is behind the latest endeavor, and this time around petitioners are looking to expand beyond the village’s boundaries.
The East End Eruv Association has taken initial steps to create the boundary, known as an eruv, that would not only encircle almost all of Westhampton Beach Village but also the entire hamlet of Quiogue, as well as parts of Quogue Village and the hamlet of Westhampton, according to Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller.
The Village Board held a special executive session last Wednesday, August 25, to discuss the proposed eruv, a designated area in which Orthodox Jews would be allowed to push and carry objects to temple on the Sabbath—activities that are normally prohibited on their holy day.
A March 2008 application submitted by the Hampton Synagogue, located on Sunset Avenue in Westhampton Beach, sought to create a smaller eruv and sparked a firestorm of opposition in the village that blazed for months. The Hampton Synagogue withdrew its application in May 2008 and has not since reapplied, even though religious officials stated at the time that they would refile after educating village residents about the proposed boundary.
Rabbi Marc Schneier, the founding rabbi of the Hampton Synagogue, and other synagogue officials did not return multiple calls seeking comment about the latest application.
Mr. Teller reported that another group, the East End Eruv Association, recently contacted at least one utility company requesting permission to install black markers on utility poles that would mark the boundaries of the eruv. “They have applied to LIPA or Verizon, or one of them,” he said. The mayor declined to say how he found out about the application.
On Wednesday morning, Marvin Tenzer, a resident of Westhampton Beach and a partner in the Manhattan law firm Tenzer and Lunin LLP, identified himself as the president of the East End Eruv Association. He confirmed that the group is exploring creating an eruv on the East End, and said Mr. Teller’s geographical account of the eruv is under consideration.
“It’s being explored,” said Mr. Tenzer, one of the founders of the Hampton Synagogue. “There are a number of geographical areas that are being explored at this time. Nothing is concrete.”
Mr. Tenzer stressed that the East End Eruv Association is “absolutely unrelated” to the Hampton Synagogue, although he said an eruv in the area would benefit parishioners there. He said his group is seeking to create an eruv while “trying to avoid another tempest in a teapot,” referring to the controversy brought on by the 2008 application filed by the Hampton Synagogue.
The attorney also said the East End Eruv Association is trying to determine exactly what kinds of governmental approvals it would need, under local, state and Orthodox Jewish laws, adding the group will comply with all legal requirements.
“And, again, the main issue for the eruv association is how to get an eruv accomplished on the East End with the least amount of friction and community antagonism and all of that unnecessary heat,” Mr. Tenzer said.
On Monday, John Bonomo, a spokesman for Verizon, confirmed that the East End Eruv Association recently applied with the company to mark the eruv. Mr. Bonomo declined to release a copy of the application and said he did not know details of the proposal, including where the boundaries of the eruv would be.
A Long Island Power Authority spokeswoman did not return calls this week.
According to state records, East End Eruv Association was incorporated as a nonprofit on March 10.
The Village Board struck a defensive stance against the latest proposal during last week’s executive session, according to Mr. Teller. “The board has taken a position that the public has spoken and our understanding is that for an eruv, they need public support, and we don’t believe they have the support of the public,” he said.
The mayor added that the board agreed to hire a municipal attorney to represent the village in the matter, adding that it will conduct interviews with candidates in the near future.
Mr. Teller drew an approximation of what the eruv boundary would look like on a map, though he warned that his rendering was “not 100-percent accurate” and, again, he declined to say where he got the information. By his estimation, the eruv boundary would run down Dune Road in Westhampton Beach and Quogue, cross Quogue Village in the north-south direction, cross the northernmost part of Westhampton Beach near the railroad tracks and go on to encompass the easternmost part of the hamlet of Westhampton.
Mr. Teller said an attorney will come in handy in case the East End Eruv Association tries to bypass Westhampton Beach Village and apply instead with a higher authority, like Suffolk County or the state. Suffolk County and state representatives did not return calls inquiring whether or not they had received applications from the East End Eruv Association.