By Deb Silverthorn
The Dallas-Fort Worth area’s fifth eruv is expected to be up and running soon in Richardson, the first one east of North Central Expressway.
The boundaries are, roughly, Owens Trail on the west, Jupiter Road on the east, Yorkshire Drive on the north and East Belt Line Road on the south.
“We have nearly 18 couples who have joined us in living in this area, more than 100 people who share in many of our programs with more people contacting us who are seriously considering moving here all the time,” said Rabbi Avi Honigsfeld, who with Rabbi Moshe Segal directs DATA of Richardson/Young Jewish Couples (YJC), based within the eruv’s boundaries at 1900 Forestwood Drive in Richardson. “Bringing an eruv here is a huge step.’’
In 2017, as Data of Richardson/YJC found themselves migrating to the area, the need for an eruv came into play. The eruv’s “walls” expand the private domain of one’s home, creating a “halachic wall,” allowing “carrying” outdoors within the eruv on Shabbat and on Yom Kippur. This enables observant Jews to walk with items such as strollers, wheelchairs and walkers from sundown on Fridays through the close of Shabbat as well as on Yom Kippur. The eruv doesn’t give license to break Sabbath laws, so items such as money or writing utensils may not be transported.
“Hashem gave you a double portion of manna on Friday so on Shabbat you [could] stay at home and don’t [have to] leave your place on the Sabbath,” said Segal. “It’s prohibited on Shabbat to bring something in, or out, to move something to or from a private to public domain.”
The eruv has been created using existing structures of utility poles, backyard structures and walls. Wires stretch around the structures to create a door “frame.”
The two Richardson rabbis sought assistance first by Rabbi Duvi Zomick, then throughout the process by Rabbi Yosef Berger and Rabbi Yonah Ribiat of Baltimore. The rabbis surveyed the area, mapped it out and determined what other steps needed to be taken.
After many discussions and changes to accommodate all halachic, municipal and utility company requirements, construction on the eruv began five months ago.
Running the wires and conduits on the poles, to abide by Torah laws creating essentially a walled-off city, is something that, while appreciated by those whom it affects, is invisible to the unsuspecting.
“It takes an eye for detail and every little curve and line matters,” said supervising lineman Mike Plemmons. “It’s [made] of beautiful arched copper wires, from one pole to the next, and perfection is critical,” said Plemmons, whose company Primoris T&D was contracted by Oncor Electric.
“This work is a blessing,” he said. “I couldn’t ask to be in more esteemed, respectful or kind company than to work with these rabbis. I care about my neighbors and what is important to them, matters to me. This job is a highlight of my 23 years in business.”
Richardson Deputy City Manager Don Magner has also worked on the project. “We’re happy to accommodate and to be building relationships within our community and to be part of the solution.”
The boundaries are not always on a straight path, and the project required permission from private residents. Of those contacted, none were Jewish, none had ever heard of an eruv, and all were accommodating and most even happy to be a part of something faith-fulfilling, the rabbis said.
“Getting permission was critical and our neighbors couldn’t have been kinder,” said Segal. “So many spoke of the meaning being a part of this brings to their lives, even coming through another faith.”
Members of the DATA of Richardson/YJC community will voluntarily check the eruv weekly, ideally on Tuesday or Wednesday so that if there are breaks to be repaired, they can hopefully be completed before Shabbat. If the eruv remains “down,” or out of use, community members will be notified.
“The opportunity to be part of a Jewish community, in such a meaningful way, is an incredible gift. You want to see a miracle,” said Segal, “build an eruv. The providence we see every day we work on this is truly remarkable.”