Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mahwah Can Erase Eruv Policy, but Not Words

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mahwah Can Erase Eruv Policy, but Not Words

Article excerpt

As 2017 comes toward its close, the Mahwah Township Council is trying to bring its anti-eruv policies to an end, as well. It will not be easy.

We are encouraged the council appears set to walk back ordinances that greatly restricted access to public parks and prevented the extension of an eruv into the town from Rockland County, N.Y. An eruv is a religious boundary that allows Orthodox Jews to perform some tasks outside the home on the Sabbath, like pushing a stroller.

The eruv in Mahwah — and also in Upper Saddle River and Montvale — symbolized something else: an "infiltration" of Orthodox Jews into their communities. Dire predictions of large Orthodox families that would shun public schools and then reduce school funding, while also changing zoning ordinances, spread like wildfires. Township officials, particularly in Mahwah, doubled down on restrictions, claiming those actions had nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

The Record and NorthJersey.com have followed the eruv debate throughout the year — the acrimony between the council and the mayor, and between the council and the police chief who sought legal guidance from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office about enforcing an ordinance that would have banned out-of-state individuals from using public parks. The county prosecutor, Gurbir Grewal, said the ordinance was unconstitutional.

Grewal was vilified for his opinion. But Gov.-elect Phil Murphy chose him to be the next state attorney general. The current one — Chris Porrino — already filed a nine-count lawsuit against Mahwah because of the eruv ban and park restrictions.

After Murphy's attorney general announcement, council members met behind closed doors and emerged with a new take on the eruv and parks policies: They would disavow them without an explanation.

The members say they have received legal advice telling them to remain silent. …

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