Liberal rabbi says discussion of Camden eruv must not forget ‘deep-seated prejudices’

Rabbi Neil Janes, of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood, gives his view on plans for a new eruv in Camden to allow Orthodox Jews more freedom of movement on the Sabbath.

The eruv has no meaning for me in my observance of the Sabbath as a Liberal Jew, since I do not feel bound by Jewish law as Orthodox Jews do.

However, I recognise the value of enabling people with disabilities and young families to participate more fully in their chosen community.

From experience, the eruv boundary is largely inconspicuous - in spite of which, the discussion of the eruv in my neighbourhood had quite obvious anti-Semitic undertones.

We must be careful about the language we use for the boundary, because it will not “cordon off” but creates, in effect, an artificial bounday around the community who use it.

I am proud to live in a society in which religion may be expressed in public as long as it does not negatively impact on the lives of others.

Therefore, as a Liberal Rabbi, I would encourage the local community to consider the planning application with an open mind, be judicious in their choice of words and conscious of deep-seated prejudices.