Detailed plans to construct Leeds’ long-awaited first eruv have been submitted to the local council, along with dozens of supportive statements from members of the community.
The planning application from Leeds Eruv Limited – based at the Leeds Jewish Representative Council – outlines plans to erect 52 poles around Alwoodley, Moortown, Meanwood, Lidgett Park and Chapel Allerton.
Each pole would be connected by overhead wires, designating the halakhic enclosure which allows, among other things, the transportation of certain items between private domains by effectively integrating private and public spaces into one larger public domain.
A statement submitted by the group, which is fronted by Lisa Baker, Robert Dewar, Hilton Lorie and Jonathan Straight, sought to allay fears the eruv would “lead to the concentration of a particular minority group and an imbalance in the existing social, ethnic and religious character of the area concerned”.
It added: “All the eruvs already in existence for many years in and around London have clearly demonstrated that they have no effect whatever in altering the composition of the local population or the pattern of local activities in any way other than providing a benefit for those whose needs it addresses.
“What the eruv does achieve is the ability of orthodox Jewish residents who are either themselves wheelchair-bound and very young children, and the carers of both these groups, to participate fully in social, community, leisure and religious activities beyond the confines of their homes on Friday evenings and Saturday.
“For many wheelchair-bound persons, their weekly visit to the synagogue on Saturday is their principal social activity of the week – enabled by the provision of an eruv.”
The application was accompanied by 36 statements of support from members of the Leeds Jewish community, many of whom said a Leeds eruv was “long overdue”.
Michael Fielding, from Alwoodley, said: “This is much overdue and will enable those in the community, such as those with young children or disabilities, who have previously been prevented from attending communal activities on Shabbat to once again be a part of the community.”
Mendel Sufrin, from Moor Allerton, added: “This project will make the Sabbath so much easier and more enjoyable for the Jewish people who want to observe this holy day, especially families with young children and the elderly.
“It would also encourage people to move to Leeds who otherwise would have had reservations about moving here due to not being able to carry on the Sabbath.
“The Eruv would hardly be noticeable by the public but would mean so much to us. It would also encourage more people to observe this holy day.”
Vivienne Alper, a practising Orthodox woman, said that the eruv would be a “huge help to me and many others… as it will allow us to comply with Jewish law… This will make a great difference to my convenience and comfort every week on the Jewish Sabbath and I will be very grateful and appreciative.”