Expansion, vandalism of structure used by Jewish community sparks debate

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The expansion and vandalism of a structure used by the Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland County and New Jersey has caused controversy among residents.

The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council shared pictures of a religious enclosure - called an eruv-  smashed in multiple locations last week. Without the eruv, the Orthodox Jewish community cannot carry objects outside their homes on Saturdays.

Yossi Gestetner says the eruv was vandalized in six places in Mahwah earlier last week, 28 places in Upper Saddle River Wednesday night into Thursday morning and in one place in Pomona.

The eruv crossed state lines, and recently expanded from the edge of Rockland County into New Jersey. It has faced fierce opposition by many New Jersey residents.

"I think there is rise of misunderstanding of the Orthodox Jewish community, there is a lot of innuendo, lies based on angst among people outside the community,” says Gestetner.
Gestetner says the eruv has been ordered to be taken down in both New Jersey municipalities by Aug. 4. City leaders say it violates local rules.

Upper Saddle River resident Jamie Levine, who is Jewish, lives right across street from the new eruv. He says he doesn't condone the vandalism but wants the pipes to come down.

"They are marking territory. I think it's looking for annexation, expansion,” he says.

Upper Saddle River police were unable confirm whether they are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime. The vandalized pipes have since been repaired.

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