MAHWAH, N.J. — Tensions are heating up further in Mahwah, New Jersey over religious boundaries called eruvs.
More of them have been vandalized—and police are investigating it as a hate crime.
Six of the PVC pipes that mark the eruvs have been damaged in Mahwah. An eruv is a symbolic fence – a religious symbol for Orthodox Jews.
Police say seeing them in such a condition is considered a hate crime.
This is now the second hate crime investigation in a matter of weeks.
The latest vandalism was reported Saturday in the area of East Crescent Avenue.
Adam Winarchik lives right at the scene.
“I don’t think people should be vandalizing things — that’s unfortunate that it’s happening,” he said. “I think there’s more of a constructive way to go about dealing with that issue. “
That issue has and continues to be over the eruvs, which are put in place so Orthodox Jews are able to carry things and push baby carriages on the Sabbath.
The symbolic fence makes their entire community a Jewish backyard.
Some fear the eruv will attract more and more Orthodox Jews, ultimately taking over their community.
“I think it’s an encroachment. It should be a separation of church and state as is laid out in the Constitution,” Winarchik added. “As it being harmful, I don’t see it like that.”
Eruv expert Rabbi Adam Mintz told he does not see any takeover or encroachment happening.
“There are over 200 eruvs in metropolitan areas in North America,” he said.
That’s including smaller towns like Monsey in neighboring Rockland County, New York.
But, many in Mahwah, including town officials feel the eruv markers violate local law that prohibits signs on trees rocks, and utility poles.
That is why the town unanimously decided to start issuing summonses if PVC pipes on utility poles outlining the eruv stay in place.
Now, the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association and two New York residents have filed a lawsuit just announced on Friday.
Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet would not comment on the lawsuit, but he did say the vandalism will not be tolerated. He just announced a $1,000 reward for any information that will help lead to an arrest and conviction of the crime.