Cape Jewry one step closer to getting eruv

Cape Town city council last week recommended developing a citywide eruv policy taking them a step closer to a 13-year goal of an enlarged eruv. Alan Levin of Sea Point says whenever Jewry tried to put in an eruv “the city tried to block it.” Last year some non-Jewish residents labelled an eruv “unconstitutional.” Says Levin: ''The city puts up 16,000 Christmas lights, the least they can do is [allow us] to put up 16 poles [between Sea Point and Camps Bay]."
by ANT KATZ | Jun 01, 2014

READERS PLEASE NOTE: It has been brought to our attention that some of the information in this story is not correct. SAJR Online sourced this information from prior published sources as quoted with links in the story.

These linked and quoted sources included 'Eruv' on cards for Sea Point Jewry soon published on May 27, 2014; and Eruv erection causes a stir published on July 23  2013 – both in The Times. The latter stated: “Rabbi Alan Levin, from the Sea Point Hebrew Congregation, said: "For 10 years we've tried to put up an eruv but the city tried to block it.” We also published the CJC article verbatim.

It has been brought to our attention that there is a working eruv in Sea Point and that Alan Levin is not a rabbi. As the story was written and published on Sunday, we would have been unable to verify these sources even were we to have felt the need to mistrust the published material.

We regret the inaccuracies of our colleagues in the media, and for looking like Johannesburgers-writing-about-CT. SAJR Online has elected not to change the story below and asks readers to read it within this context.

Another hurdle in the13-year-long battle for Cape Town Jewry to enjoy the benefits of eruvim, was won last week, putting the Sea Point Jewish community one step closer to being able to demarcate their eruv.




This came after a Cape Town city council committee last week recommended that the economic environmental and spatial planning directorate develop a citywide eruv policy.

Eruv - CTRIGHT: A map of the proposed eruv. CLICK HERE to see it in more detail

Cape Town Jewry are hoping that the process of the city council to develop such a policy will not be delayed any further after they have waited for 13 years for an eruv – an area incorporating public and private properties within which Orthodox Jews may push prams and wheelchairs, and carry keys on Shabbat and chagim.

A temporary eruv has been demarcated for the Sea Point community and includes properties from Glengariff Road to Clifton.

But in July last year Sea Point resident Soren Elvin-Jensen complained to Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille that eruvim were "unconstitutional."

But Alan Levin, a spokesman for the area's eruv committee, told last week that there was strong local support for the establishment of an eruv.

"We tried to make it so that it is completely friendly to the environment," he said.

LEFT: The Greater Johannesburg eruv consolidated over 10 eruvim into one – although the red lines are "no crossing" zones.
CLICK HERE to see it in more detail. The only Johannesburg eruv not incorporated is that in Victory Park.

Johannesburg Beth Din director, Dayan Anton Klein, has been instrumental in the building of, maintaining the integrity of and consolidating the Johannesburg eruvim.
He has also for years been involved in assisting in the planning for Cape Town's proposed eruvim.

It seemed that the Cape Town community finally had everything under control last year. Sea Point was erecting their eruv while the incorporation of Clifton and Camps Bay were being proposed.

Unfortunately, as circumstances turned out, it was not going to be as easy as they had hoped.

A step closer or bogged down in committee?

Then, last July, a few residents wrote to Mayor Patricia de Lille objecting to the proposal – see STIR OVER CT ERUV on TimesLive.

In a letter on behalf of several residents, Soren Elvin-Jensen said the construction of the eruv went against the Constitution.

"It would appear that by the establishment of an eruv one religious persuasion seeks to impose and establish a 'private domain’ in a public area,” wrote Elvin-Jensen.

"We assume the construction of the eruv has been undertaken without council permission or approval, which is a prerequisite," he said, adding to the Council’s woes.

The ward councillor for the area, Bev Schafer, said at a recent sub-council meeting that she had proposed that guidelines be introduced for the erection of eruvim in Cape Town.

"At the moment it's only one or two individuals making those decisions," said Schafer. She told The Times: "The Sea Point eruv went through an extensive process of public participation for a year.

''In December, an eruv was put up on someone's home who was not Jewish and this caused problems."

Rabbi Alan Levin, from the Sea Point Hebrew Congregation, said: "For ten years we've tried to put up an eruv but the city tried to block it.

''The city puts up 16 000 Christmas lights, the least they can do is [allow us] to put up 16 poles [between Sea Point and Camps Bay]," he said.

The history of the matter

The June 2010 article in the CAPE JEWISH CHRONICLE entitled “An eruv for Sea Point at last”, refers and is republished verbatim below:

While South Africa and our mother city were watchfully counting the days to the greatest global sports event ever to be held in this country, not many were aware of another significant countdown of far longer duration.

Some ten years ago, at a gathering in Cape Town presided over by UOS Rosh Beth Din Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag, the local rabbis of the time agreed that Sea Point should have an eruv.

Now, after an approximately 3 650 plus day countdown, construction of the eruv is almost complete.

David Cohen, who Rabbi Kurtstag roped in to ‘run with’ this complicated enterprise a decade back, was happy to explain the halachic definition and laws of an eruv and the process that he and his team went through in bringing this one to successful reality.

What is an eruv?

In brief, and simplistically, an eruv represents the "walled city’"of biblical times - a semi-private domain (a carmelit in Hebrew) which, through the construction of the eruv, is converted to a private domain (reshut yachid in Hebrew) wherein, according to halachic law, one is allowed the act of carrying on Shabbat.

To convert a secular suburb such as Sea Point into a private domain can be no easy task. Indeed, over many years it did not seem as if it could be achieved, owing to understandable objections from the City Council.

About a year ago, however, after the necessary assurances, the Council changed its position and a real, final countdown could begin.

The eruv that has been erected broadly covers the upper parts of Green Point, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay and Sea Point, including Beach Road. As David described it, one could say that the starting point is at Three Anchor Bay on the Beach Road.

Continuing from pole to pole or connecting to walls and fences of existing buildings or even thick bush, the eruv follows a tortuous route up Glengariff Road and upwards and onwards, winding its way through the areas as noted above. Occasionally it takes its form from parts of the mountain (as long as they exceed a 25 degree angle), bearing in mind that the minimum height of any pole or fence must be one metre.

The final stretch runs along the promenade from Saunders Rocks back to the pole on the corner of Three Anchor Bay.

Some poles are free standing, David explained, while other shorter ones are strapped to existing electrical poles.

The connecting wires are attached to the electrical poles and run exactly over the top of the shorter poles.

David enlisted an outstanding team of specialists to create this amazing structure, if one could term it that.

Landscape architect Tarna Klitzner was specifically asked by the City Council to do a visual impact survey and was instrumental in providing the Council with all the necessary detail and assurances.

Jeff Borstrock managed the erecting of the poles and wires, while Sea Point resident Stan Grusd planned and supervised the construction, assisted by Kim and Lance Katz who oversaw the construction of the wooden fences on parts of the mountain, all of which took some two-and-a-half weeks.

Once operational, the eruv has to be checked every week immediately prior to Shabbat. A suitable person is in the process of being trained for this onerous task.

Rabbi Dov Tanzer and latterly, Rabbi Anton Klein of Johannesburg, have been the halachic consultants, Rabbi Klein taking ultimate rabbinical responsibility for halachic conformity.

And now that this miracle has finally been achieved, there are plans (and ideas) afoot to "eruv" Claremont, maybe Milnerton - and even Muizenberg, to accommodate the needs of the "northerners" who descend on the area during the December holiday season.

It seems that in the eruv department, Cape Town is well on the way to "keeping up" with Johannesburg!


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