Relationships within the Eruv

Allan Baumgarten gives an overview of the structure of the community and the divisions within it.

As a relatively small and close-knit community, people tend to form strong relationships within the eruv, but the rifts within the Jewish community are a part of life there. One of the divides within the eruv relates to the different approaches of the Orthodox community to religious life. While Kenesseth Israel was for a time the undisputed center of Orthodox life in the eruv, the splitting of Bais Yisroel and later Darchei Noam marked new trends that have divided the community. Bais Yisroel represents a more conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, characterized by intensive Torah study and rejection of secular Western culture. Darchei Noam represents the opposite trend, attempting to create a more active role for women in worship and reconcile strict adherence to Jewish law with the acceptance of modern culture. This shift and the debate over the community’s future have created some degree of bitterness, though this has cooled in recent years, and there is not very much official contact between the three congregations. However, several groups like Eruv of Minnesota as well as many friendships transcend these divisions.

Wendy Goldberg gives an example of an activity involving the whole of the Jewish community.

There is a fair amount of interaction among less traditional Jews and Orthodox Jews in the eruv. For example, a community picnic generally takes place in the nearby park once a week. However, much of this is one-way; while, for example, a Reform Jew will gladly attend a wedding or Bar Mitzvah at an Orthodox congregation, an Orthodox person, particularly a member of the Haredi community, would often be unwilling to reciprocate due to the legal difficulties of attending a congregation they would not see as following Jewish law. Ultra-Orthodox Jews sometimes see non-Orthodox Jews as violating the Torah’s law and therefore believe that they are not authentically Jewish, which creates another source of tension in the community; friendships, however, are known to transcend these boundaries. Overall, relationships within the community are strong, but changes and uncertainties within American Judaism at large impact these relationships.