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City Council approves symbolic community boundary

A seven-year debate ended Monday when the San Diego City Council unanimously approved plans for 20-foot high wire to mark the symbolic boundary of La Jolla’s Orthodox Jewish community.

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously yesterday to support an orthodox Jewish synagogue and their plan to mark the boundaries of their community. 

Congregation Adat Yeshurun wants to construct an eight square mile border around parts of La Jolla and University City. Parts of the boundary will be marked by thin wire – similar to fishing line – strung 20 feet above the ground. In the orthodox Jewish religion, carrying or moving an object from a private area to a public area is forbidden on the Sabbath. This means that even holding a child or pushing a wheelchair or stroller outside the home is not allowed. The Eruv acts as a symbolic boundary that extends the living area beyond the home and allows orthodox Jews to move more freely during the Sabbath. We spoke with Kaiser physician and former president of congregation Adat Yeshurun, Dr. David Kupferberg, about the impact the Eruv will have on his community.

Kupferberg: We can't go out with my baby on the Sabbath to a park, to a playground, to my friend's because we can't push a stroller or carry. And that establishing of the Eruv allows us to enjoy the city streets, to go to see our friends, to go to synagogue and worship if we so please as a family and that is unbelievable. I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old, but our two-year-old, often, as two-year-olds do, she would walk down the street and say ‘I don't want to walk anymore’, and say ‘No.’ And 45 minutes of me standing on the street saying, ‘but I can't pick you up.’ And she would say ‘No.’ And now that won't happen anymore. I can pick her up and we can walk and it will be a wonderful thing.

The La Jolla congregation has faced strong opposition from community groups. Opponents have argued against allowing a religious symbol in a public place, adding concerns about aesthetics, public safety and environmental impacts. But Kupferberg says the council's unanimous decision sends a strong message.

Kupferberg: You know it's a tremendous signal to our community and to all of La Jolla that this is what we're really about: diversity, supporting the minorities in our community. And to have a unanimous vote with the unfortunate opposition that we had really sends a signal that this is what democracy is about, this is what America is about, this is what La Jolla is about, and it's a tremendously wonderful sentiment from the city council and we're very appreciative of the city council and the mayor.

 More than 150 U.S. cities have allowed the establishment of an Eruv for their orthodox Jewish residents.