Row erupts over bid for St John’s Wood and Maida Vale eruv
10:07 04 May 2012
The head of the St John’s Wood Society has spoken out against plans to construct a boundary of poles and wires which allow Orthodox Jews to travel more freely around the area.
Last week the Wood&Vale revealed how Jews were being asked to support resurrected plans to build an eruv around Maida Vale, St John’s Wood and Lisson Grove.
The North Westminster Eruv would allow Orthodox Jews to carry out tasks on the Sabbath that would usually be deemed to be work.
Writing in the St John’s Wood Synagogue newsletter, former St John’s Wood Society chairman Andrew Mainz said the eruv campaign had to overcome worries over religion in public spaces and xenophobic attitudes.
But Queen’s Counsel Peter Leaver, who has taken over as St John’s Wood Society chairman, says he resents being labelled as xenophobic for opposing the eruv.
“I do not see why anyone who is against the eruv should be stigmatised as a xenophobe or anti-semitic or both,” said the West London Synagogue member.
“I find that accusation offensive. I’m against the eruv because I do not see why a fiction should be put in the area at large.
“An eruv is a fiction because Orthodox Jews felt they were hampered by the laws of the Sabbath so they created this thing called an eruv.
“It’s an interpretation and it has nothing to do with the Bible.
“I have had a number of people correspond with me since the plans have resurfaced and I don’t think I have had anyone who supports it.”
Responding to such concerns Mr Mainz said: “We have always wanted to engage sensibly with people and find out what their reasons are for objecting and respond positively with them.”
Rabbis from St John’s Wood Synagogue originally intended to submit proposals for the North Westminster Eruv in March 2010, but the plans were set aside until they resurfaced last month.
Rabbi Ivan Binstock, who is leading the synagogue’s bid, said: “We are hoping to reactivate the plans and are in the process of regrouping and deciding our strategy to take it forward.
“We are happy for a debate to take place. Eruvs now exist in a number of places inside and outside London and most people do not even know that there are a few unobtrusive poles and invisible wire. They do not have any impact on their lives.”
Plans to set up a Camden eruv around Hampstead, Belsize Park and West Hampstead were also announced in March.