By Monique Laborde
A clear fishing wire is tied around the island of Manhattan. It’s attached to posts around the perimeter of the city, from 1st street to 126th. This string is part of an eruv, a Jewish symbolic enclosure. Most people walking on the streets on Manhattan do not notice it at all. But many observant Jews in Manhattan rely on this string in order to leave the house on Sabbath.
The concept of the eruv was first established almost two thousand years ago, to allow Jews to more realistically follow the laws of Sabbath rest, particularly one — no carrying on the Sabbath.
According to the laws of Sabbath rest, nothing can be carried from the domestic zone into the public zone on Saturday. That means no carrying house keys or a wallet. It also means no pushing a baby stroller. For parents of young children, no carrying would mean not leaving the house on Saturday.
The eruv symbolically extends the domestic zone into the public zone, permitting activities within it that would normally be forbidden to observant Jews on the Sabbath.