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Camden Eruv would open new frontiers for Orthodox Jews

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 April 2012

Rabbi Shlomo Levin with Eruv poles and lampposts in Wildwood Road HGS

Rabbi Shlomo Levin with Eruv poles and lampposts in Wildwood Road HGS

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

The Sabbath is a day when the Jewish community comes together, but for some it can be an isolating experience.

The White House and the European Court are just two high-profile sites that are circled by special boundary lines, known as an eruv, which allow Orthodox Jews to move freely on the traditional day of rest.

Now members of the observant Jewish community say it is high time Hampstead welcomed its own eruv.

Louise Goldschmidt, who had her first child 50 years ago, fell into a deep depression when she realised that motherhood cut her off from the rest of the community on the Sabbath.

Mothers and the disabled in Hampstead, West Hampstead and Belsize Park can still be house-bound on the day of rest, with simple tasks such as pushing and carrying banned on the Sabbath.

But a proposed new enclosed area – called the Camden Eruv – would lift such restrictions.

Mrs Goldschmidt, who attends Shomrei Hadath in West Hampstead, said: “As soon as I had my first child I could barely leave the house on the Sabbath and I had four children in eight years so that went on for some time – the situation made me very depressed.

“We could never visit anyone or go for lunch. I could not make friends. It left me feeling totally isolated, depressed and very unhappy.”

The 76-year-old’s daughter moved to Hampstead Garden Suburb and went through the same experience until the country’s first-ever eruv was established in 2003.

“When my daughter had children she went through the same thing. She didn’t get to know anyone and if you’re working during the week, the weekend becomes incredibly important for families to come together on the Sabbath,” said Mrs Goldschmidt, who used to work for the Jewish Chronicle newspaper.

“But when the eruv was built, suddenly people said, ‘Come for lunch, let’s walk home together’. And she developed a really great group of friends.”

Movement between the north-west London eruv, which covers Golders Green and Hampstead Garden Suburb and the borough of Camden will remain restricted until an eruv is built.

“An eruv would make such a difference to people’s quality of life so young mums or disabled people can go out and meet their families and neighbours,” she added. “It will be amazing.”

Representations to Camden Council close on Saturday.

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