In one of his hit songs, California Love, the late Tupac rapped, “It’s all good, from Diego to the Bay,” well his words have not stood the test of time. It isn’t “all good” for some Jewish residents of No-Cal.
Eight years after the infamous public hearings that doomed the Palo Alto eruv, Congregation Emek Beracha is at it again. But until the local press began covering the latest saga in the eruv chronicle, opponents didn’t even know it was an issue.
Now that they know, some of them aren’t happy.
“The eruv forces upon us the necessity to live in a community devoted to the worship of a god foreign to our understanding and devotion,” one resident said.
It’s hard not to see responses like this as an overreaction, though. The eruv doesn’t have any spiritual significance for a non-Jew, and it can barely be differentiated from utility wires.
Clearly locals think otherwise. Said one resident of neighboring, Woodside,
“We live in a modern, secular, democratic world, and these wackos are trying to catapult us back into a 2,000-years-ago kind of dealâ€¦the sneaky way these folks do things.”
Interesting that this person considers calling people â€œwackoâ€? because of their religious beliefs acceptable in the “modern, secular, democratic world.”
While most opponents to the Palo Alto eruv argue that it is in violation of the separation of church and state, using provocative language to describe Jews or Jewish traditions detracts from their claims. It also begs the question: Is the problem really the separation of church and state or something else?
Regardless of opponents’ views, the Orthodox community of Palo Alto has legal precedent including the controversial Tenafly, N.J., eruv ruling in 2002. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that granting a permit to construct an eruv does not violate the ban on government establishment of religion according to the First Amendment. So it seems like the Orthodox Community may get their wish even without any “California Love”. Don’t worry, East Coast has your back!
(Matt Ring is the summer intern at MyJewishLearning.com)
Pronounced: ERR-oov, Origin: Hebrew, a physical boundary that allows observant Jews to carry needed things (and push strollers) in public on Shabbat despite the traditional prohibition on carrying.