St John’s Wood Jews told: ‘Your eruv needs you!’

Appeal made to build support for a Jewish boundary around St John’s Wood and Maida Vale

“Your eruv needs you!” is the call that has been issued for Orthodox Jews to support plans for a boundary of poles and wires around St John’s Wood and Maida Vale.

The boundary line, known as an eruv, would mark out an area for Orthodox Jews to carry out tasks on the Sabbath that would usually be deemed as work – such as carrying or pushing.

Plans were first drawn up for a North Westminster eruv by St John’s Wood Synagogue at the start of 2010 with a thin wire forming a ring around Lisson Grove, St John’s Wood, Maida Vale, Finchley Road and parts of Regent’s Park.

The proposals were put on the back burner.

But writing in the synagogue’s recent newsletter, former St John’s Wood Society chairman Andrew Mainz said: “Opposition to the eruv must become as unfashionable as supporting parking restrictions in the West End on evenings and Sundays.”

He added: “A small group of people have been responsible for the drawing up of the plans. They now need a lot of support and help if the application is to be made successfully.

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“It would, of course, be bad if an application were to be made and fail.

‘‘The PR campaign needs to be led by an enlarged, reinvigorated committee, which will act as the proposer for the planning application.”

Mr Mainz, who declined to comment beyond his newsletter article, also wrote that there was “a splendid set of plans for the North Westminster eruv waiting to be used”.

But he warned that three major problems must first be overcome – worries over religion in public spaces, xenophobic attitudes and concerns among Westminster councillors.

Mr Mainz accuses some local councillors of wanting to “boost their popularity and success by opposing any application” while council officers “also appear hostile”.

Regent’s Park Cllr Daniel Astaire, a lifelong member of St John’s Wood Synagogue, said: “As and when an application is submitted, it will be dealt with along ordinary planning grounds and I will deal with it as I would do with any planning application.

“The religious element does not make it any different from any other application.”

The possible revival of the North Westminster eruv comes after plans were announced last month to set up a Camden eruv around Hampstead, Belsize Park and West Hampstead.

The creation of eruvs in North Westminster and Camden, coupled with the existing North West London eruv around Golders Green, would see much of the area contained within new eruv boundaries.