405 construction downs eruv

The Los Angeles Community Eruv will not be in operation during the Shabbat that begins at sundown tonight, June 14, due to construction on the 405 Freeway.

An eruv makes carrying items within its boundaries on Shabbat permissible for Jews, according to halacha (Jewish law). This includes synagogue-goers carrying books and prayer shawls to parents wheeling strollers.

According to Howard Witkin, the head organizer of the Los Angeles Community Eruv (laeruv.com), construction at the 405 on- and off-ramps at Wilshire Boulevard will make it impossible to replace the 150 to 200 feet of fencing that needs to be standing in order to make the eruv kosher.

“There’s just too much going on there to make it possible for us to do repairs,” Witkin said, adding that this is only the second time in three years that this has happened due to construction.

“We hope to have a workaround for next week, but the next three weeks will be

problematic as the contractor rushes to finish new and demolish old bridges at

Wilshire,” he wrote separately in an e-mail to a community notification list.

According to Jewish law, carrying on Shabbat in a public domain is prohibited. But a kosher eruv — an enclosure often comprised of connected fencing, walls or string — turns an otherwise public domain into a private domain for halachic purposes.

When up, an eruv allows people to carry items from one place to another, such as from a home to a synagogue. When down, carrying in a public area is not halachically permitted. The missing fencing in the Los Angeles Community Eruv will make the normally enclosed area a public domain this coming Shabbat.

Witkin predicted that the eruv will be up again next Shabbat. He added that in the coming months, the organization will make a fundraising push to cover its annual operating costs of approximately $100,000.

“The eruv always runs short of funds in weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah.

This year we are especially short because of the extraordinary expenses of

repairs every week as we coordinate with the freeway construction,” he wrote in the community e-mail. “We will need at least an additional 10k to get through the summer and keep the eruv up.”