If you’ve ever been to Venice Beach California, you may have noticed this little synagogue right on the boardwalk. Can’t remember? Let me help – it’s the building right next door to the Sexetera Sex Shop. Aaaah… now you remember? Well, the LA Times reports that the The Pacific Jewish Center in Venice, a.k.a. The Shul On The Beach, is hoping to build an eruv around much of Santa Monica, Venice and Marina del Rey. This eruv, which is a boundary, will allow the practicing members of the Jewish community to carry things like keys and canes on the sabbath. It also allows for the use of strollers and wheelchairs. Proponents of the eruv also mention that Jews would now be able to have sabbath picnics on the beach and that the eruv will encourage more tourism from observant Jews.
The boundary will be marked by invisible fishing line so as to be as unobtrusive as possible, although some are concerned that birds will fly into the wire and hurt themselves. The California Coastal Commission, the regulatory body that has the final say on whether the eruv goes up or not, has rejected the application for that reason, but the synagogue is working on a plan that involves wire only visible to birds.
Eruv boundaries have been quietly popping up in several parts of Los Angeles as the Orthodox population has increased. In addition to the one on the Westside, there is an eruv in the San Fernando Valley, and [Pacific Jewish Center Rabbi] Geiger helped create one in Irvine a few years ago… Lea Geller, a synagogue member, said she has had to forgo attending services for five years because she has three small children. The eruv would make it possible for her to participate in synagogue activities and to enjoy walking at the beach and picnicking with her family… “So much of religion is socializing and community,” she said. “This isn’t a luxury. It will allow us to function as a community.”
Cool! I mean an Orthodox beachfront synagogue in SoCal is already noteworthy. But the possibility of an eruv equipped beach? Think of the possibilities! I hope they work it out. And now, if you like, you can listen to Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1998 cover of Surfin’ USA off their album Barbed Wire Kisses. Click on the audio link below.[audio:surfin_usa.mp3]
But remember! Eruv or no eruv, surfing is not allowed on the sabbath!