The Village of Quogue dropped its fight this week against the erection of an eruv or religious boundary to accommodate congregants of The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, L.I.
The village was the last of three municipalities to oppose the eruv, which was first proposed in 2008 and triggered court battles with each of them. The eruv consists of lechis, wooden or plastic strips affixed to telephone and utility poles to form a boundary within which observant Jews may push baby carriages and carry items on the Sabbath.
Rabbi Marc Schneier, the congregation’s spiritual leader, said of the village’s decision, “Thank God it’s over.”
Yehudah Buchweitz of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, who along with Bob Sugarman served as pro bono lawyers representing the East End Eruv Association that went to court to fight the municipalities, said that both state and federal courts had ruled in the synagogue’s favor.
Although there were three earlier favorable court decisions regarding eruvs in New York and New Jersey, Buchweitz said that until now “no court had ruled as the state court or the Second Circuit did here, saying there is an affirmative obligation to reasonably accommodate [an eruv] under the First Amendment.”
Morris Tuchman, the synagogue’s honorary president, said in a letter to the congregation that the case “established legal precedents on the establishment of an eruv that will benefit generations of Jews all over the United States.”
The Quogue settlement is identical to one the Town of Southampton entered into last September when it dropped its opposition to the eruv’s expansion into the hamlets of Westhampton and Quogue. Although the eruv has been erected in Westhampton Beach, the case against that municipality is still pending, Buchweitz said.
Rabbi Schneier said he hoped to have the eruv expansion completed by Passover. Buchweitz said the eruv would extend at least two miles from the synagogue in all directions.