Tenafly to appeal eruv fight to U.S. Supreme Court

Posted: Friday, February 07, 2003

TENAFLY, N.J. (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court will be asked to intervene in the case of a symbolic district which the Orthodox Jewish community has built by marking utility poles -- thus allowing its members to follow religious law.

The Tenafly borough council will ask the high court to overturn an October ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the project.

Local officials had argued that allowing the Orthodox community to attach unobtrusive plastic strips to poles to form what's called an eruv constituted an improper government endorsement of religion. The appeals court rejected that claim.

An eruv allows Orthodox Jews to perform physical tasks otherwise banned on the Sabbath, such as pushing strollers or carrying keys. The Tenafly eruv encloses about one-third of the borough of 13,000 and links with an existing eruv in neighboring Englewood.

The issue arose in 2000, when Tenafly's Orthodox community put up the plastic strips, called lechis, without the council's knowledge after obtaining permission from Verizon and Cablevision, the two utilities that maintain the poles.

After discovering the strips, the Tenafly council voted unanimously to order them removed. The Orthodox community sued in federal court, losing an initial round before gaining a decision in its favor from the appeals court in Philadelphia.

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