Unbeknownst to many, there are translucent fishing lines that wrap around hundreds of cities around the world. Strung high above the heads of pedestrians and roofs of houses, on utility poles and lamp posts, these wires are barely visible and hardly affect the lives of millions that live in these cities. But for the orthodox Jews, these imperceptible wires that run for dozens of miles, mark an important religious boundary that allow the devoted to hold on to their faith.
The wires mark the boundary of a ritualistic enclosure called an eruv, within which observant Jews can perform certain duties that they are not allowed to outside of home, during Sabbath. These duties are often mundane, like carrying house keys, tissues, medicines, or using strollers to push babies around, but essential enough to function in life. Following the rules of Sabbath, hence, not only interferes with life but also prevents Jews from fulfilling their religious duties. For instance, families with small children, who use prams and pushchairs, or the physically disabled, who use wheelchairs, are effectively housebound. They can’t even go to the synagogue.
Map of eruvs around Brooklyn, New York.
Map of the Manhattan eruv.
Map of the eruv in Amsterdam.
A section of an eruv in Manhattan, New York. Photo credit: New York Post
The string of an eruv in Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles. Photo credit: waltarrrrr/Flickr
The string of Los Angles Community Eruv runs over a utility pole. Photo credit: waltarrrrr/Flickr
The string of an eruv visible against the blue sky in Lincoln Square, New York. Photo credit: Billie Grace Ward/Flickr
A man attaching a wire t a light pole to create an eruv in Malden, Massachusetts, United States. Photo credit:www.bostonglobe.com
A plastic string of an eruv runs over a neighborhood in Malden, Massachusetts, United States. Photo credit:www.bostonglobe.com
The string of an eruv in New York City. Photo credit: Ella/Flickr