Venice Beach SynagogueIf 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.


But remember! Eruv or no eruv, surfing is not allowed on the sabbath!

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Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • I found this article in the first section of Milwaukee’s paper this morning. Bizarre what they choose to grab off the wire, so to speak.

    I hope they have success. Eruvs have encountered problems all around the country from groups who just don’t understand the whole thing.

  • I was just rading this with my morniging coffee. She missed a few important points in the article. 1) The eruv uses existing structures in waht appears to be over 50% of the eruv. 2) Sabbath observers do not pollute the earth with car exhaust on the sabbath 3) The eruv is built at a height that most people will never even notice it. We are talking about 20 feet in Long beach in many places. Most people NEVER even notice. 4) the bird will now be better protected because eruv checkers will be looking out for their nesting places and can become volunteer wildlife protectors on their weekly rounds. WOW that would be a great idea.

  • Not that it will matter to the people who will object, but I and my mother only recently learned that my mother’s house, which she just sold, is within an eruv. As is a good chunk of the part of town the house is in. And it has been for about 20 years. And no one to whom an eruv isn’t relevant had any idea. Kicks up the house values, let me tell you. Mom got a nice, fat chunk o’ change for the ancestral family seat.

  • Ok seriously, this is the WORST kind of ooga-booga hocus-pocus stuff. I can’t believe people in this century still believe in this Medieval (at best) magic. And, and, and… Clearly eruvs are taking public property, perhaps with permission from some misguided public officials, for religious gain. You have to put those 30-foot tall posts somewhere and it’s usually on a piece of public property. Banish eruvs to the Dark Ages where they belong and get over it already.

  • Quaso – you’re entitled to your opinion of course, but an eruv isn’t about hocus pocus stuff. It’s a religious belief. And above and beyond all that, it may very well bring in more tourist dollars to Venice Beach so who cares?

  • Actually the word you wanted to use Mr. Eruv hater is Abracadabra, which is from Aramaic. Abra K’ Dabra. So i will say Abracadabra and maek your hate go away. Poof!

  • An eruv is a legal fiction – like a corporation, which is an “imaginery man,” who can be sued, but not the coporation’s owners or officers. This makes it safer to do business. The obligations are the corporations, not yours personally.

    Legal fictions are respected practices and useful. They are not nonsense.

    An eruv states that in Jewish religious law’s eyes, everything inside the eruv is one house, one place.

    It is very, very unobtrusive.

    An eruv that really obstructed something, or caused some kind of material problem or annoyance to people who do not believe in the religious view it is a part of, would not be good. But they never do. See post 3.

  • Why does the neighborhood have to be “one house”? So you can carry within it on Shabbat. Because you can’t carry stuff outside of your house on Shabbat.

    Why is that important? Because carrying stuff is a main function of ordinary life, including business.

    Why is that important? Because on Shabbat life is not ordinary, it is a taste of Eden. No business is done, and therefore no carrying.

    Why is that important? So that people recognize a non-material aspect to Life. Shabbat grounds the notion that there is right and wrong – a completely abstract concept.

    No Shabbat, no abstract ideas. No abstract ideas, no love, no honor, no honesty, no allegiances, no promises, no trust.

    Yuck. Who wants that.

    Honor the Sabbath to keep it holy. Yes, you have to do the keeping holy. If it’s just Saturday, well, it is. To you. Reclaim your property, Shabbat. Slowly. It does work, but it has to be earned.

    You think the connection above between Shabbat observance and honesty is tenuous? It is thin, but not tenuous. It is like fishing line. It is hard to see, but very strong. It can take a century or more to become visible, in a family. Let’s not be literal-minded. Our ancestors could not have all been crazy over two, or is it three, or is it five, thousand years.

    Shabbat Shalom all Jews, no matter how non-observant.

    I am no rabbi. I hope I explained it right.

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