Eruvs Vandalized Again In Mahwah; Police Investigate Incident As Hate Crime

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.

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    MAHWAH –
    An Orthodox Jewish group is accusing township officials in Mahwah of being anti-Semitic in the wake of the fight against eruv.

    PVC piping attached to more than 100 utility poles owned by Rockland Electric have become the center of the controversy. The pipes act as a boundary enabling Orthodox Jews to do certain outdoor activities on the Sabbath.

    The Bergen Rockland Eruv Association says that the eruv presents no safety, traffic or other community concerns.

    The eruv are an extension of the boundary for the Orthodox community across the state border in New York. Some Mahwah residents have spoken out against the eruv and say that they don’t want it extending into their town.

    “We’re not anti-Semitic, we have nothing to do with religion,” says resident Vince Crandon. ”It’s someone that came up in the middle of the night and started installing PVC pipe without anyone’s knowledge.”

    Crandon is among those who believe the pipes are not a legitimate eruv. He says that it violates a town law that no signs can be placed on utility poles.

    “As a resident of Mahwah I can’t even put up garage sale sign, I can’t attach balloons to utility poles. I can’t do any of that,” says Deborah Kostroun with the group Mahwah Strong, which opposes the eruv.

    Police say that a number of the pipes have been cut. The incidents are now being investigated as a possible bias incident.

    Mahwah officials have said that summonses would be issued if the pipes weren’t removed. This caused the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association to sue the township.

    An attorney for the group says in a statement, “It’s obvious that part of the opposition is to Orthodox Jews moving into the Mahwah area.”

    The township is set to start giving out summonses on Friday.

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