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Orthodox Group Sues New Jersey Town For Ordering Eruv Removal

(JTA) — An Orthodox Jewish group has sued a town in New Jersey for ordering it to remove an eruv, or religious boundary, from utility poles in the town.

The Bergen Rockland Eruv Association and two residents of Rockland County on Friday filed a federal lawsuit against the town of Mahwah, saying the town is violating their constitutional and civil rights.

Mahwah had told the South Monsey Eruv Fund to remove the white plastic piping from utility poles that it uses for the symbolically enclosed area by Aug. 4. An eruv allows observant Jews to carry objects and push strollers outside of their homes on Shabbat.

The Orthodox community told The Associated Press last month that it had been given permission to hang the piping by the local utility company. But town officials said the piping is banned because it is considered signage.

Town officials told the Associated Press that the town will start issuing summonses by next week if the piping is not removed.

“The object, motivation and effect of the actions of the township is to suppress the religious practices of the plaintiffs and certain other Jews who reside in Airmont and other parts of Rockland County (in New York),” the lawsuit states, according to AP. “The eruv presents no aesthetic, safety, traffic, fiscal or other concern to Mahwah.”

Town Mayor Bill Laforet has called on the council to hold off on issuing summonses and to instead negotiate with the eruv group. He said a legal fight over the eruv could be costly for the city, the AP reported.

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