Jewish law says that Jews may not work on our Sabbath. One of the distinctive features of Judaism is that we get very specific about our terminology. One of the activities we define as "work" is carrying things around unless we are inside our houses or fenced yards. What things are we not allowed to carry around? Keys, purses, books, babies. In short almost anything.

This of course, makes it difficult for families with young children to get together on the Sabbath. So the rabbis decided that we could have a big "yard" that included many homes as long as it was properly enclosed and became one community


We wanted to create a boundary around an area that has many Jewish residents that would legally create such a community and afford the Jewish residents a greater quality of life and community by affording them the ability to be able to carry on the Sabbath within that boundary. Since putting up fences is expensive and frequently impractical, around 2,500 years ago, great rabbis came up with a method of putting up a symbolic fence that would serve to create boundaries for us that would not be needlessly intrusive.

For centuries now, Jewish communities have, where possible, created this kind of unobtrusive boundary around each community so that we could socialize on our Sabbath.


How is the boundary made? We use existing fences, overhead wires, hillsides, buildings, bridges, and a variety of other mechanisms that can serve to indicate boundaries. For reasons of getting along with our neighbors and to avoid vandalism the practice has been to make it as unobtrusive and unnoticeable as possible.

In many places, the existing landscape and elements are insufficient for our needs. In those places, after securing permission from the appropriate authorities and property owners, we repair, upgrade, or add ornamental or functional elements. We work with local governments, power, telephone, and cable TV companies.


Each week expert observers check the boundary to ensure that it hasn’t been damaged during the week. If it has been damaged, then repair crews are dispatched.


Eruvin serve the needs of all kinds of people. An eruv attracts families who have small children and are unable to leave their homes unless they will not need to carry their children. Without an eruv, no one can carry their keys to their homes with them and must come up with creative alternatives for storing their keys.


There are eruvs in literally hundreds of cities around the United States and the world. Cities such as Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Indianapolis, Harrisburg, Miami Beach, Long Beach, Baltimore, and many more have an eruv.

(from http://www.denvereruv.org/explain.html)

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