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Bigotry in the Suburbs

June 30, 2010 – 9:52 pm72 Comments
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By Simon Holloway

As some readers may be aware, the St Ives Jewish community has been petitioning the construction of an eruv for over two years now. A symbolic perimeter around an area, the building of eruvim dates back at least to the early third century, when their construction and maintenance was detailed in the Mishna. By allowing a public domain to be construed as a private domain (even if only in a purely symbolic fashion), the carrying of objects on Shabbat from one’s home into the street, and vice versa, ceases to be problematic.

The many and complex laws that pertain to these prohibitions, and the many and complex laws that pertain to the construction and maintenance of eruvim, have been such that many religious Jews continue to refrain from carrying on Shabbat, despite the presence of an eruv. Nonetheless, for many Jews in St Ives, the construction of a symbolic perimeter would be of tremendous benefit. Kuring-gai Council has been slow to approve it.

Those who wish to view a recent article in the North Shore Times about this eruv can find it here. The comments are, for the most part, appalling. Unable to draw a distinction between supporting local Jews and funding “Israel’s holocaust against the Palestinians”, several individuals (many of whom have wisely, if not cheekily, opted for anonymity) have decried the barbarous religious practises of rabbinic fanatics, and vociferously condemned the usage of public space for the construction of a ghetto.

Let me make this very clear. The eruv will not be noticeable. The eruv will not drive away people who are not Orthodox Jews. The eruv will not even attract additional religious Jewish people into St Ives. Orthodox Jews move to an area on the basis of the density of its community, the location and number of its synagogues, the availability of kosher food and mikva’ot, and the presence of a Jewish school. The existence of an eruv, while a bonus feature (and one that makes life better for those religious Jews who already live there), is not in itself a drawcard. To suggest that Jews will move to St Ives in greater numbers if the eruv is constructed, implies that they might otherwise favour an alternative suburb on the North Shore.

At the end of the day, this should never have been made public. Most of the decisions that the council makes get made without recourse to the knee-jerk opinions of the broader community. I emphatically do not watch TV, but my opinion was never sought as regards the construction of Foxtel cables throughout my neighbourhood. They are an eyesore and they required both the trimming of trees and disruptive construction work. It is absurd that the constituency of Kuring-gai needs to be heard as regards whether or not these cables may now serve a dual purpose. Shame on Kuring-gai council for their insensitivity, and shame on the North Shore Times for their deplorable “moderation” of comments.

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  • rachsd says:

    Hey Simon,
    Interesting article. A couple of disjointed thoughts –
    The comments on the article you linked to remind me of the sorts of comments people make about women wearing hijab.
    I don’t agree that they should be ‘moderated’ – I’d prefer to know what people are thinking than not to know.
    The article itself – not yours, the one in the North Shore Times – and others I found on google seem to misunderstand and therefore promote misunderstanding of the eruv. Eg by calling it an enclosure.

  • Michael says:

    On the eruv not being noticeable there would probably be exceptions to this, eg. if a rope goes across the road between to telegraph poles that are quite far apart — and that’s something I think is reasonable for a resident to object to.

  • frosh says:

    Hi Michael.

    I’ve lived in two different Australian cities that each had an eruv, and in both cases I lived within the eruv.

    I have never even once noticed the physicality of the eruv. We live in cities and suburbs that have a multitude of wires and cables, and thus it is hard to believe that any extra small wires required to complete an eruv would be noticed. These few extra wires are indistinguishable from the other pre-existing telephone and electrical wires that constitute the bulk of the eruv.

  • Akiva says:

    just a thought – but did anyone explain to the non-Jewish community what an eruv actually is? Or did they just notify them about some ‘religious enclosure’ which was being sought? Because if they didn’t explain, I’d say the failure was ours.

    We need to understand that ‘people’ – including Jews – fear what they don’t understand. They especially fear things that they don;t understand being imposed on them. Even more if such things are dressed up in words like ‘religious’ and ‘enclosure’. ( notice that many of the most hostile comments on that article are from atheists who object to the religion thing). This does not make them anti-semites, in general (although there seem to be some of those too, if saying that the Jewish community is Shoah obsessed is ACTUALLY anti-semitic). It just makes them people. And the only thing that will help is informing them. Not more bunker mentality.

  • Michael says:

    Hi Frosh

    I’m not talking about where it goes alongside wires but rather where it cuts across an otherwise open space. Of course it depends on how big a deal you think that is but my point was that you can have a genuine objection to that particular example (cutting across an open space) without being inconsistent or bigoted. Also some people might oppose any use of public space for religious purposes which I’m somewhat sympathetic to (although this case is pretty minor).

    Other objections might stem from the actual symbolic value of it, people might think symbolically it’s a case of religious Jews “staking claim” to that part of the suburb. In which case it’s a bit similar to the Swiss minaret ban or those who oppose constructing a mosque near the World Trade Centre site in NYC.

    Akiva, completely agree that the framing of it as an enclosure is what’s affected a lot of public opinion against it.

  • rachsd says:

    Hi Michael,

    I agree with you that there are similarities to the Swiss minaret ban etc, which I find at least equally prejudiced.

    Michael and Akiva,

    The framing as “enclosure” is indeed part of what has set people against it. But this doesn’t come from the organisers, whose description can be found here:
    This language comes from the journalists at North Shore Times.

  • frosh says:


    Would you not admit that the following is bigotry?

    An unedited excerpt from the second comment:

    “This is a beauful suburb to live and if this proposal goes ahead, all that will be attracted to the area will be Jewish people. St.Ives has always been a wonderful open family place to live. If we put this eruv into place, we will be like the eastern suburbs and have a majority of Jewish instead of a proper mix of religions. We do not just want to attract one race and religion concentrated in the area.

    There is a reason that its only been passed in two areas of Ausralia – ITS NOT THE AUSTRALIAN WAY !!!!!”

  • Akiva says:

    That ‘Information Page’ is the most useless bit of explanation that I’ve ever read. It says nothing except what an eruv is not, without saying clearly what it is.

    Mind you, I’m not sure that anyone could explain clearly what it is…..but that page just reeks of ‘don’t worry, you don;t need to know the details, just believe us when we say that it won’t affect YOU!’.

    If that was distributed to me regarding about changes occurring in my area, I would find it arrogant and uninformative.

    That having been said, someone should make a formal complaint about the North Shore Times piece. If they are indeed the ones that came up with ‘religious enclosure’. Mind you – that may very well be what they think it IS.

  • Anne says:

    Michael I agree with you in terms of the symbolic implications. Each to their own I say however it annoys me that should one dare speak out against a religious proposal (the eruv in this case) we are automatically labelled bigots. I would have a problem with this regardless of the religion,as it shows complete disregard and lack of respect for the non jewish residents of St Ives.
    Instead of being told that we will have an eruv erected, it would have been nice to have been asked, and perhaps a compromise considered – it then becomes a community decision with all involved not just one specific sector of the community. I have lived in St Ives for 20yrs and have never recieved any information in my mailbox re the eruv.
    There really are ways of handling sensitive issues such as this and it is not with arrogance and calling those questioning it bigots. ( I refer to the Jewish representative on last nights ACA). We are a community made up of many religious groups so need to be alittle more considerate of each other.

  • Akiva says:

    Yes. Of course it is bigotry. The only thing to do with it is talk. educate. Not bury it under a pile of your own bigotry and paranoid distortion.

  • Steve says:

    Anne I agree with you regarding the Jewish representative on ACA last night. I’m not sure if he did a lot to build any bridges.

    I don’t live any where near St Ives in fact country NSW. The one comment I had was that I agree where the power lines are already about it won’t make any difference except to those whom the eruv benefits, but what will happen when as is happening where I live, power goes underground and the power poles are taken down?

  • I am also not an Orthodox Jew, and will in no way benefit from the construction of this perimeter. The issue, so far as I am concerned, is that some people WILL benefit, and it costs us nothing to support them. To that end, I have no problem with seeing religious infrastructure around me (or even infrastructure that benefits specific ethnic communities), on condition that it is neither damaging to the environment, nor restrictive of other civil liberties. Steve’s hypothetical is well-taken, but that’s an issue for the future.

  • ariel says:

    It amazes me in general how little the average Australian knows about Judaism. Assumptions are made which are often way off the mark, yet no one seems to be out there explaining ourselves to the wider community.

  • I have explained many different aspects of Jewish life and observance to non-Jews, and from experience, it can sometimes be a very challenging thing to do (we have a copy of “Judaism for Dummies” at the office). These interactions are usually with people I work with, who would be described as “white collar workers”, and not necessarily representative of the typical Aussie battler. Eruv is one of the more complex things to explain to anyone, let alone a middle-aged, long-term St Ives resident with antiquated Australian attitudes to “foreigners”.

    So it’s worth acknowleging the profound challenge in explaining to our neighbours why we need an eruv, and what it is.

    Further, the use of the term “enclosure” was a mistake because it evokes a very different image of what an eruv actually looks like and its impact on the suburb.

  • gedalia says:

    If you think the newspaper comments are deplorable, check out the comments and the typically paranoid coverage of ACA on

  • Peter says:

    As a non-Jewish local resident the principle of this issue seems to me to be about the use by a section of one part of the community of property owned by the whole community. I don’t think that there is any reasonable objection to this proposal as long as it does not affect anyone else negatively or if it does they are appropriately compensated.

    The Council should properly consider the effect of this structure on the visual environment and where additional structures such as poles are erected on public land the broader community has a legitimate right to object. Those in favour of the proposal should consider a route for the eruv which has the least impact on others.The council decision can be found at


    KMC is notorious for its opacity and arbitrary interpretations of planning regulations. In this case most of the reasons for objection are related to lack of consent from affected properties and lack of detail in the proposal. It’s hard to see this as unreasonable and the option to take the proposal to the LEC has not been exercised.

    I don’t know why the route is so circuitous, why it does not follow natural boundaries such as along the edges of reserves and whether erecting additional poles could have been avoided. All of these would, I think make a difference to the acceptability of the proposal to the general public.

  • When an eruv is “built” in a suburb, the poles and wires are placed exactly adjacent to existing pole & wire infrastructure used by power and/or telecomms. Usually, additional poles are not required. Anyone walking around suburbs with an eruv would struggle to even identify the poles and wires in question.

  • frosh says:

    Exactly David.

    Having lived within the Eruv in Perth, Melbourne, and also holidayed within the existing eruv in the Bondi area, I have never noticed the physical structure of the eruv. It is indistinguishable from the regular electrical lines (and indeed it is largely made up of existing lines).

    I have never heard of any non-Jewish residents in these areas that have an eruv even being aware that an eruv exists, let alone complaining about it.

    Having said that, I understand that some residents may have the wrong idea of what the eruv is (physically), and thus are concerned. That’s fair enough, given the way the media has reported it.

    However, with regard to the residents concerned about the change in demography, well this does seem like bigotry.

  • Ari says:

    Now it all makes perfect sense why Gillard was placed in power by the Elders and why they published the article in The Age. They arranged for Gillard to ensure that the ‘enclosure’ makes it through council. That way, with three large settlement blocks on the Eastern sea board we’re well on our way to arming ourselves and ethnically cleansing Australia’s cities(Just see how Israel started). The Age article was perfect, because while everyone thinks we did it to gain favour on the Israel front, they won’t even think about the fact that Gillard is allowing enclaves in her own backyard. Since the prophecies make clear that we cannot remain in Israel-Australia with it’s proximity to the rest of the world and massive size provides the perfect place for the Jewish people becoming a true superpower-With St. Ives as its capital of course.

    I’m not sure who are more intelligent – the Jews who orchestrate all of this or the people who figured us out?

    Bunch of BLOODY IDIOTS!!!!

  • frosh says:

    Sorry Ari,

    You might claim your capital is St Ives. You might even base your parliament, all your goverment body HQs, and your national cultural institutions in St Ives.

    Nevertheless, the world will still maintain that your capital is Bondi.

  • Ari says:

    I guess you’re right – which reminds me – shouldn’t the council be asking for Obama’s and the EU’s final decision regarding the eruv poles? It is only fair that they determine the boundaries of the latest attempt at claiming a national Jewish capital.

  • So much for moderation. For those who are interested, the North Shore Times never even responded to my letter to the editor (which was worded differently to this article, and didn’t criticise their staff), but you can look at the print edition and see which comments DID make it in. “Israel’s holocaust against the Palestinians”. Worthy of inclusion.

  • ariel says:

    simon, can you please provide the link to the letters page, i can’t find it…

  • That’s because their website is evidently staffed by volunteers: there is no way of seeing any of the published letters since April. Unfortunately, you will need to look at it in print.

  • Religion says:

    Any chance religion can stay out of Australia?

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Why St Ives Upper North Shore? What is the price of Real Estate in that area? Where have all the Aborigines gone from that area – oh that’s right ethnically cleansed long ago! Do we have a Palestinian area in the Upper North Shore?

  • Pavel says:

    Sure there’s an element of bigotry in the leafy suburbs of Sydney. But it’s equal opportunity bigotry. This is no different to the backlash against Muslims trying to build a mosque or an Islamic school in an area where they are a small demographic minority.

  • de Zwijger says:

    I think a more appropriate plan for the Orthodox Jews would be to erect a eruv around the entirety of Australia. That way, the entire area is private and the Orthodox can continue to find loopholes in their holy books allowing them to break religious laws without ‘really’ breaking them.

  • De Zwijger’s comment, rather than simply being dismissive, is actually interesting: it highlights a very common misconception about the nature of eruvim. People seem to think that the eruv serves as a “loophole”, enabling Jews to do what would otherwise constitute a violation of the law. This is actually incorrect. According to Torah law, the only thing forbidden on Shabbat is “labour”, and the only examples of labour given in the text are the lighting of fires and the collecting of wood.

    Rabbinic law, while relying upon the Torah, is more properly based upon sixty-three books known as the Mishna, which were composed at the beginning of the third century. It is those books that detail the thirty-nine different categories of labour forbidden on Shabbat – one of which is transferring objects from a private to a public domain, and vice versa.

    To suggest that the eruv is a loophole would be to suggest that it was invented later as a means of circumnavigating this particular prohibition. On the contrary, the laws pertaining to the eruv are enshrined in that same document, making it a clause of the law itself. The prohibition of carrying from domain to domain is more properly expressed as a prohibition of carrying, when there is no eruv.

    The reason that so many orthodox Jews do not observe this particular clause is because the laws that pertain to the construction of eruvim are exceptionally complex, and it is easier to treat the prohibition against carrying as a blanket prohibition with no exceptions. Nonetheless, for those who do observe this particular clause, there is a maximum area that can be defined by the eruv and so putting one around Australia would not work.

  • Ari says:

    It’s always the open-minded moderns who would travel to Africa to understand the cultural minutae of other cultures and would justify their need to keep their traditional identities and communal structure who are the first to write:…the Orthodox can continue to find loopholes in their holy books allowing them to break religious laws without ‘really’ breaking them.
    Maybe such people should travel down the block to a Shule and speak to the Rabbi or perhaps to a university and peruse some scholarly articles on the Gemarra, Mishna and workings of Jewish Law and only then go to Africa to understand others.(I guess the Shule/University option isn’t as exotic and doesn’t post as well on facebook)

  • Lee says:

    As an Orthodox Jewish resident of St Ives, but one who does not observe the laws to the extent that the eruv would have an impact on me personally, I believe that both sides of this discussion should be taken into account: The rights of those wanting to practise their faith and the rights of those who live in the area, but are not from that group. I think that the argument about environmental impact and visual impact on the area is largely unfounded, given that St Ives has a 15 square km area and only 27 poles are to be erected, but think the main consideration is whether the eruv would have any negative impact on individuals or groups. If this is deemed to NOT be the case, this should be passed.. What does concern me is the basis to some people’s objections to this is their intolerance of others combined with fear of the unknown (coupled with a lack of willingness to educate themselves about the facts). I absolutely agree that terming this an ‘enclosure’ or ‘enclave’ is grossly misleading, as it implies that this is intended to be a restriction being imposed on others, which it is not. In short, as always, when religious views or belief systems come into it, emotions are involved, which may cloud the facts. An unemotional decision, based on the rights of all parties, should be made by The Council.

    The disturbing part for me is that so many of my fellow residents adopt a close-minded view and are clearly anti minority (of all kinds, but possibly excessively so against Jews). For these people, the eruv is merely a means to express their intolerance.

    Other non Jews who have commented above in a fair manner- you have a right to lodge your case, for consideration.

    I hope that the Eruv decision will go through, in a way that does not impact negatively on others i.e. only benefit to be gained.
    I also hope that certain people can see beyond a seemingly narrow scope of vision..

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Reply to Lee. Will it be, Eruv today, apartheid wall tomorrow? Actually I feel empathy for the Jewish population who feel it necessary to have an eruv strung up… all sounds quite neurotic. Is erecting poles and stringing up wires a way of breaking God’s neurotic rules and regulations?

    My questions are genuine, and not intended to be anti-Semitic, so please refrain from answering whilst wallowing in the victim mode.

  • OzzyRookie says:

    Can someone please explain to me why we have no ability as Australians to change any other country’s landscape to suit any of our beliefs ?? . And yet it is deemed to be acceptable for others to do it in our great country . Are we loosing our identity ??.

  • ariel says:


    Simon Holloway has answered your question as have many others on many other forums.
    Simon says that eruv IS NOT a loop hole to enable circumventing of the rules; it is part of the rules itself. I encourage you to read his answer (it appears just 3 entries above your last comment).

    I understand it’s difficult to comprehend Jewish traditions as they are very complex. What I don’t understand is peoples’ unwillingness to visit other parts of Sydney and Australia (and the world) where eruvim (plural) exist and to see for yourself that there is no segregation, no divisiveness and no impact on anyone. It simply allows the Jews living there to keep their traditions. Nothing more, nothing less. You are not being asked to contribute or sacrifice anything; it is all paid for by private donations.
    Ask the Irish and NZ backpackers in Bondi if it ruins their working holidays when they see a piece of string on a telegraph pole…

  • Ariel, don’t waste your time. It’s obvious that Aussiebattler didn’t even read what Lee wrote, despite that being the post to which he/she was specifically referring. And as for opinions like those of OzzyRookie, these are the dregs from two generations ago that still haven’t washed away.

    Despite being one of the most multicultural places in the world, Sydney is still home to many people who think that “Australian identity” is something white and Christian. You find these people all over internet forums. A curious fact: they’re always anonymous.

  • ariel says:

    BTW, ACA has removed all comments from their website.

    NS Times have abandoned all screening of comments whatsoever.

  • frosh says:


    I believe this is because Vic Alhadeff has complained to them.

    Personally, I think this is a mistake. I’d rather know what these morons are thinking, and I rely on those comments sections for this.

  • Akiva says:

    Watched the ACA segment – it is truly heinous.Unforgivably bigoted. Anyone know contact deets of an offical channel to complain through?

    I am still compelled to say though – why the hell did the Rabbi call it a ‘fence’?? Why have the Jewish community leaders in St Ives done such an atrocious, cack-handed, incompetent job at explaining themselves? Seriously. Problematic.

    I also still believe that choosing not to be in dialogue with those who are hostile is a big big mistake and that Simon’s advice to just not bother is dangerous. Hiding behind some of the ignorance and fear are people that just might be educated and persuaded. always.

  • Ari says:

    I agree with Akiva – Why call it an enclosure at all – knowing what the general Australian community is like(and please don’t tell me they actually thought it was open-minded and multicultural) they should have had a town meeting and explained the following things no more and no less:
    1. Orthodox Jews need the wire on top of telephone poles to be able to carry things out of their homes on the Sabbath.
    2. Where there is a complx situation we will need to add small pieces of thin wire that won’t be seen and we are willing pay for it all.

    No need to explain about enclosures, about fences, about anything like that. Just wire on top of poles. And no need to explain how it will lead to an increase Jewish presence in any neighbourhood.
    They could have said, if you would like an explanation about why the Jews need this please refer to our Rabbi.

    Admittedly they did something like this but they still had to speak about some of the basics of Eruvin and increasing Jewish presence. It shows a complete lack of appreciation for the attitudes of Australians.

  • Col says:

    Why cannot the eruv wire be placed underground?

  • Col,

    The wire, unlike electrical cables, doesn’t actually do anything. Much of the debate, rather than centring around pragmatic issues (will it cost anything? What will it look like? Will it require construction work?) has been centring around theological issues instead (what does the wire DO? Does it NEED to be there? How will it improve MY life?). The answer to those theological questions, if you are not an orthodox Jew, is “nothing, no, and not at all”, respectively.

    The only reason that the wire cannot be underground is because the Mishna mandates its construction at a minimum height of ten “tefachim” above the ground (approx. one metre). In this instance (indeed, in almost all instances throughout history), it would be several metres in the air, which is fine from the perspective of rabbinic law. There is more information that can be given on this, as the laws pertaining to eruvim are somewhat involved, but the straight answer is that Jewish law (based as it is upon the sixty-three books of the Mishna) requires things to be done in a particular fashion, with minimal room for leniency. If the wires actually served a purpose, aside from being an enactment of 3rd century halakha, then I am sure that other compromises could be reached.

    (By the way, placing it underground would actually require construction, and the utilisation of pre-existing cables would be impossible. Given the fuss created over connecting a piece of string around those telegraph poles that do not already have a cable on them, we can be assured that an underground system would be certainly rejected by the council!)

  • ariel says:

    I believe also, that an eruv is supposed to “simulate” (or, if you like “replace”) a wall.

    In Mishnaic times, cities were often surrounded by walls, making the entire city within an eruv. Often, groups of houses had walls around them (I imagine something like a gated community) with courtyards between the houses. It was these areas where strings were suspended between walls in order to plug the gaps, thereby completing the loop.

    The idea of the “string/wire suspended in the air” avoids having to build an actual wall. So the string in the air is actually itself a compromise.

    As Simon says, placing it underground – even if that were acceptable in Jewish law – would mean digging up the entire path and placing cables. This process is expensive, noisy, messy and not environmentally sound.

    On the other hand, finding an almost-complete loop in the route of the Optus and electrical wires and plugging the gaps with shorter lengths of wire and poles would be far more acceptable on planning and environmental grounds. (Everyone keeps forgetting that the eruv is already 85% built).

  • Col says:

    So I presume that if one pushes a pram above a height of ten “tefachim” you’re breaking the sabbath. Gosh.

  • ariel says:

    Interesting question.
    When they invent “hoverprams” (due out in 2015 according to Back to the Future), it may become a problem…

  • frosh says:

    Hey McFly!

    Everyone knows hover prams don’t work above a height of ten “tefachim”!

    “Not unless you’ve got power!”

    And people who rely on an eruv to push a pram certainly don’t use external power on their hover-devices on Shabbat.

  • Col says:

    The point of my comment about pushing a pram above ten tefachim was that if that person entered a multi storey building he or she could not go higher than four stories.

  • That’s a good question, Col, but it’s not an issue. Buildings count as private domains and the prohibition restricts carrying between private and public domains only, but not within either one. The eruv is a symbolic means by which public domains can become construed as being an extension of private domains, and thus enable “carrying” from one’s home into the street and vice versa.

  • Anthony says:

    One thing I’m curious about – is that regardless of purpose.. To place cabling on utility poles generally attracts either a council or utility provider fee of some sort. Indeed, when pay TV first came to Australia, a lot of councils were up in arms and all sorts of agreements etc. had to be determined.

    Ie. If I wanted to string up a cable between my house and someone else’s several blocks away, I’d most probably be expected to not only insure against any damage/injury the cabling could cause, but pay a fee to keep it in place.

    Whilst it’s been stated that the project will be fully funded as far as I understand it by the Jewish community in question, I wonder if that funding includes payment of the usual fees one would expect to pay otherwise or if the council or responsible authority in question is effectively subsidising the proceedings through not levying the usual access fees.

    That said, even if they weren’t paying the access fee, I guess:
    * I never even knew these things existed before seeing it on trash TV (ACA – let’s face it, it’s normally conmen, boob jobs, diets and get rich quick schemes)
    * It’s clearly very low visual impact where existing cabling and poles are in place (I looked up website of the one already in sydney via wikipedia)
    * Never is every council resident going to use every service provided/allowed by council
    * It would appear to be a significant improvement in the quality of life for what I’m presuming is a large part of the community
    * I find it highly unlikely that the council has never sponsored Christmas decorations (though generally they’re not permanent fixtures, they often are affixed to brackets etc. that are left in place all year) and therefore money expended/not-collected for observances with a religious basis with respect to public infrastructure is not unheard of
    * Arguably speaking if no profit/service beyond the religious purpose is obtained from the sections added (not already existing), no one is ‘cashing in’ (if new sections were to have commercial or other utility beyond the religious purpose, it’d be a different matter – that said, it could also be a benefit to even more sections of the community then)..

  • Sean says:

    Simon have you ever considered throwing the keys/book/grandmother over the fence? That way gravity is doing it not yourself.

    But seriously, if the need is for a boundary then why can’t the existing power lines/foxtel cables be deemed part of the eruv, then the need is only for the connecting parts to form a continuous ‘wall’. That way the proposal wouldn’t have to include most/all of the residents who object. From what I read of the rejection by the council they are also concerned about public liability through the public areas, which wouldn’t be too difficult to address, and the RTA height requirements over the road.

    Perhaps there is some bigotry involved in the opposition to the proposal, although the internet is a magnet for every crackpot under the sun so I wouldn’t assume they are all from St Ives. But as Steve said utilities are slowly being undergrounded and it seems to be the dream of every suburbanite to do that so there are reasonable objections to it as well.

  • Sean says:

    Ok so that is now part of the proposal, Peter’s link above is to an old decision. And the power lines are part of the new proposal. So just ignore my post. Good luck with it.

  • ariel says:


    The wires/strings that will be attached are non-electrified. They serve no purpose other than to complete the physical loop of the eruv. Hence, Optus and EnergyAustralia were happy to give permission for the wires to go up as they don’t interfere with their systems electrically, ie no detrimental effect on the electomagnetic or optical signal will occur.

    Therefore, there is no ongoing fee to pay to Optus or EA (as far as I know).

    The eruv team (as with others around the world) has done research and if you attach a wire from one private property to another, there is less of an issue with council and certainly no fee!

  • Abe says:

    I am disappointed by the news that the NSWJBD (Vic AlHadeff) is defending the argument to erect a “Eruv” in St Ives, regardless of the objection of the majority of the St Ives residents. In my view, the NSWJBD should alienate itself from this debate, as they represent the whole community rather than the orthodox fringe.

    In my view the idea of the “Eruv” is extreme and self damaging. The Orthodox community should not attempt to change the fabric of the suburb in order to practise their beliefs.

    The whole idea of erecting these poles and wires will only alienate all the Jews (Orthodox and secular) from their friendly neighbours and will be seen as undesirable implants.

  • frosh says:

    Abe, has the existence of the Eruv “changed the fabric” of Bondi and the surrounding eastern suburbs of Sydney where a an eruv currently exists?

    How about Caulfield in Melbourne, or Yokine in Perth?

    These places all have eruvim, and no one has been able to point out any adverse effects.

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Definition: a private area for observant Jews in which they can move on the Sabbath without the restrictions on public Sabbath activity
    Etymology: from Hebrew erub ‘mixing’, for the mixing of public and private activity
    Usage: plural eruvim (Dictionary.com)

    Private area?

  • Aussiebattler,

    The term “private area” here is a weak translation. Jewish law prohibits moving anything on the Sabbath from a private domain (e.g. anyone’s house) and a public domain (e.g. the street or any public areas). The eruv is a system of poles & wires (that often overlaps existing power pole infrastructure) that transforms the whole area into a “virtual” private domain, according to Jewish law. It doesn’t change the ownership of the area in any way whatsoever, and is not related to ownership; rather it changes the status of the area according to Jewish law, which make carrying things withing that area permissible.

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    David Werdiger, thank you for your reply. Obviously a Jewish eruv doesn’t change the “ownership of the area,” but it does transform “the whole area into a “virtual” private domain.” Surely this must play on the psyche of all non Jewish residents within the boundaries of an eruv?

    I wonder how much opposition there would be, from the St Ives Jewish community, to other religions if they had such a law in there religion which called for the building of virtual walls in a given area which included homes in the Jewish community?

  • Abe says:

    To David Werdiger, Frosh and others in favour of the Eruv
    I agree with the Aussiebattler in his comments, in additition I have my view that: If the commandment is for the observant to be confined at home to pray and not to do such prohibited task on the Shabbat, so he or she should abide and stay at home, and not to try to deceive God by virtual wires etc. This virtual enclosures were not given in the Torah as a subtitute but an invention by the interpreters (the Rabbis in the Mishna). This to me is equivalent to a Fatwa from the Jewish Ayatollah, PERIOD.

  • Sam says:


    If the walls of the eruv are “virtual” and are only known by the observant jews in their own minds,then it cannot in any practical sense “play on the psyche” of non jews. Unless…. there is a different agenda behind your comments.


    Thanks for agreeing with aussiebattler, you have also tainted yourself with the same brush as he has painted himself with. Do you mind telling us your hidden agenda, as it as very clear there is one.
    I have no personal interest in the eruv as I do not live in Sydney nor do I concern myself about carrying on Shabbos.
    I comment only because I detect some malice which you both should have the guts to explain, so that we know what we are really dealing with.

  • Abe, you’re ignoring the fact that the prohibition also derives from the Mishna in the first place. If you want to compare this to a fatwa, then you need a fatwa that both creates a prohibition and the stipulation that allows you to bypass it in the same text. At the end of the day, and meaning you no disrespect, nobody cares for your theological opinions. The only important questions are whether it will cost anything, whether it will necessitate construction, and what it will look like. Whether or not local non-Jews confect the idea that Jews are walling off their neighbourhood, whether people in the broader society think that it’s an outlandish custom, and whether or not you find it relevant is all beside the point. You can cast a vote in regards to its legitimacy if you want, but our religion is not a democracy, so nobody is going to tally it.

  • Aussiebattler,

    If you took a survey of non-Jews living in Caulfield (where we have had an eruv for many years), and asked them how the eruv plays on their psyche, 99% would say “what eruv?”

  • Andrew says:

    Love all the comments criticising anybody who opposes the Eruv as bigoted, and then we have this from David Werdiger:

    “Eruv is one of the more complex things to explain to anyone, let alone a middle-aged, long-term St Ives resident with antiquated Australian attitudes to “foreigners”.”

    Hypocrisy is a wonderful thing isn’t it?

  • Michael says:

    I don’t understand this business of comparing to a fatwa, I guess on a certain level it is like a fatwa but how is that relevant?

    As for the outlandishness, it of course has nothing to do with it but in any case, it’s probably about as outlandish as the average religious custom.

    On the psychological damage inflicted on the poor uneruved residents, it is the outlandishness of these laws that will prevent them. Really, if most people think they’re silly I don’t think they’ll lose any sleep over it.

  • Some people choose to live as if there is nothing spiritual/transcendent in this world. They decide there is no G-d and that religion is oppressive, made of ‘outlandish customs’. These ‘free’ individuals deny they have anything higher than themselves to answer to, no Higher Power exists for them.

    They are then ‘free’ to feel more sophisticated and smugly superior to those they see as psychologically ‘weaker’ who need religion as a crutch.

    They are then ‘free’ to choose any set of guidelines to live by that suits their own narcissistic self serving needs, with themselves as the centre of the universe. Their moral boundaries (eruvim) are completely arbitrary and based on their own whims and base desires.

    Since these individuals decided that there is no soul that has any existence after they die, that there is no Higher Power to be judged by after they have finished their lives, they are ‘free’ to live life without fear of being held accountable for how they lived. They can therefore be as ‘free’ as they wish to hurt themselves, others, or the world around them as long as they get can away with it while living.

    They are then ‘free’ to live on a totally physical plane, in a world where they and others have no soul, only bodies. They therefore are completely subjugated to and enslaved by their bodily demands, needs, and desires. Their purpose in life is to live for selfish pleasure, to live on an animalistic level. They are ‘free’ to be driven by their bestial instincts, nothing higher. Instead of living like spiritual beings, they choose to live on as low a level a human being can go, all while these atheists show disdain and denigrate those who do live an inspired, disciplined, spiritual life which according to these atheists is a life of ‘outlandish laws’.

    And what laws do atheists live by? The laws of the jungle, of course!

  • Aussiebattler. says:

    Dear Shoshana Silcove, I’m sure you don’t mean to sound arrogant, but you surely do. You presume those who question the building of the eruv to be immoral atheists. I for one am not an atheist (nor do I judge atheists to be immoral) and live by the rule, “do unto others as you would them do to you.”

    Australia has a multicultural population. We should not have walls around communities, virtual or otherwise.

    No doubt you are a faithful follower of your religion, and you deserve the right and free will to follow it in peace as you wish. I on the other hand, as a non atheistic believer of a Higher Power, do wonder why you are trying to change the law you believe God commanded. If he said don’t carry anything outside of your house on the Jewish Shabbat, then that is what He meant. Yes?

    If an eruvs helps you and your religious community to feel less constrained by “God’s Law” and you desire to partake in some of the activities of the “atheists” (walk, picnic, carry a tissue) outside in the fresh air on Shabbat, then an eruv is good thing. Religious oppression often has nothing at all to do with good moral living or spirituality, but the cause of mental instability.

  • Arrogant? Like someone who presumes to know all about religious oppression and mental instability and has zilch understanding of this issue. Alas, it has nothing to do with changing G-d’s law, but you cannot be educated in this forum so, I will let you go on in your total ignorance believing you know it all while you call me arrogant. Yeah, it’s all about religious peoples’ compulsion to carry tissues NOT!

    I addressed my comments above only to the self proclaimed atheist on this blog.

  • Lee says:

    @ Andrew

    ‘Hypocrisy is a wonderful thing, isn’t it’..

    Well I’d have to say I agree with your phrase, but not with who it is directed at. I would advise you to take a look at the document put together by the Australian Government for all people with intent to become Australian citizens.

    It states the following:
    ‘Australians believe in peace, respect, freedom and
    equality. An important part of being Australian is
    respecting other people’s differences and choices,
    even if you don’t agree with those choices. It is about
    treating people fairly and giving all Australians equal
    opportunities and freedoms, no matter where they
    come from, what their traditions are, or whether they
    are male or female.’

    If there were awards given out for hypocrisy, there would be quite a few leading candidates who call themselves Australian citizens and are intolerant of all those different to them..not quite how Australian society was intended to be..

  • Aussiebattler says:

    Shoshanna Silcove, please understand, I said you sound arrogant, not that you are arrogant.

    Most Jewish people have and are contributing positively to Australia, as are most other Australians of various religions.

    My main concern is the fact of the growing clusters of same religious/same nationality-origin groups that are forming in our country, instead of an equal balance throughout.

    I leave you and this forum in peace, and just for the record, I think it is a positive for the human soul and family life to keep the Shabbat/Sabbath… Capitalism/materialism dictates there is neither.

  • Michael says:

    Shoshana, I take it you meant me but I have no idea what your comment* has to do with the thread. Are you saying the laws of eruvim would not sound outlandish to the average person who doesn’t follow Orthodox Judaism?

    *Which I’m in inclined to call an unsubstantuated rant, though unlike you I will apologise in advance if you perceive this to be rude — I guess it must be those pesky laws of the jungle I follow, as you’ve enlightenet me on.

  • Aussiebattler wrote “My main concern is the fact of the growing clusters of same religious/same nationality-origin groups that are forming in our country, instead of an equal balance throughout.

    While Jews happen to concentrate geographically largely because of Shabbat, this clustering happens everywhere in the world, and for all ethnic groups. Look at the suburbs all around Australia that have high concentrations of Jews, Muslims, Chinese, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Italians, Greeks, etc etc etc (just went to see The King & I). Most people would say that pockets of diverse cultures like these enrich Australia, and help people from diverse backgrounds keep a balance/mix of their own culture and that of Australia.

  • It takes Jon Stewart from The Daily Show to make some sense out of this “controversy”

  • Confused says:

    Excellent video.

    You can 10,000 comments here explaining everything rationally those with the mindset like “Charles” (from the video) will still rigidly not understand their contradictory bigotry.

  • Harry Joachim says:

    It’s outrageous that the Ku-ring-gai Council has finally come out and denied the creation of an eruv in St Ives. What did the councillors who voted against say? That their constituents don’t want it. Why not? Because it’ll create a ghetto. In other words, it’ll bring more Jews to St Ives. That’s right – they don’t want more Jews in St Ives.

    You would have thought that in multicultural Australia such bigotry would be condemned, or at least ignored, by council officials, but no, they have pandered to their ignorant residents and denied the Jewish community the right to practice their religion freely.

    And as for that Holocaust survivor who spoke at the Council meeting against the eruv – what on earth is her problem? Does she really think that an invisible boundary will cause antisemitism and lead to another Holocaust? It appears that there are self-hating Jews everywhere, even among those who have suffered so much for being Jews!

    More info on the eruv developments:

    * Ku-ring-gai Council rejects St Ives eruv – North Shore Times – http://north-shore-times.whereilive.com.au/news/story/ku-ring-gai-council-reject-st-ives-eruv/

    * Council to decide fate of religious zone – SMH – http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/council-to-decide-fate-of-religious-zone-20110822-1j6u8.html

    * Jewish ‘enclosure’ in Sydney’s St Ives rejected – The Australian – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/jewish-enclosure-in-sydneys-st-ives-rejected/story-fn59niix-1226120841390

    * St Ives Eruv turned down by council – Austn Jewish News – http://www.jewishnews.net.au/st-ives-eruv-turned-down-by-council/22612

    * North Shore eruv heading for Land and Environment court – Jwire – http://www.jwire.com.au/news/north-shore-eruv-heading-for-land-and-environment-court/18572

    * Four years on still eruv uncertainty in St Ives – North SHore Times – http://north-shore-times.whereilive.com.au/news/story/four-years-on-still/

    * The eruv and antisemitism – OzTorah – http://www.oztorah.com/2011/08/the-eruv-antisemitism-ask-the-rabbi/

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