It’s a day many must have thought they would never live to see but Stamford Hill is on the point of getting its first town eruv.
The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations is overseeing preparations for the Shabbat boundary, which some residents hope may go live as early as this weekend.
One of the rabbis involved in the planning said “we don’t know yet” when it would be ready and the boundaries were still being finalised. “Everything will be al pi halachah [in accordance with Jewish law].”
The development is significant because the UOHC had strongly opposed the London Beth Din’s ground-breaking North-West London eruv, arguing it did not satisfy the complex technicalities of Jewish law.
But one resident inside the prospective new eruv zone said it would be easier to set up because it would have three natural borders — the London Overground railway line, Springfield Park and the River Lea.
It is projected to span an area from South Tottenham to Clapton Common, encompassing a section of Stamford Hill and including South Tottenham United Synagogue and the Bobov base in the old Egerton Road synagogue.
“It will make a difference to people with small children,” the resident told the JC. “They will be able to go out for a walk with buggies and prams.”
Its timing, he believed, reflected the impact of the coronavirus lockdown. “People were confined indoors and the houses in South Tottenham are quite small.”
Now families will be able to take their youngest children out for some sun on long Shabbat summer afternoons.
While Stamford Hill has had mini-eruvs — in cul de sacs, for example, or in the Schonfeld Square complex for the elderly — it has not had anything on this scale.
A small eruv was recently established in South Tottenham, where the Charedi community is growing.
The UOHC rabbinate was not happy with a unilateral initiative and has taken over and expanded the proposed zone.
Rabbi Michael Biberfeld of South Tottenham Synagogue, which also houses the Chortkov Chasidic beit midrash, welcomed the plan as “a positive development with the OK of the rabbinate. Everyone is on the same page.”
Although an eruv in the area had been talked about before, there had not been sufficient momentum to overcome the reservations.
Rabbi Biberfeld said the UOHC’s previous leader, the late Dayan Chanoch Padwa, had worried that people might not be aware of the boundaries of an eruv and unwittingly carry on Shabbat outside the zone.
However, he felt opposition had diminished in recent years.
The move had “come from the grassroots. Everyone needs it now more than ever.”