Long Island eruv battle rages on

A long-simmering controversy over whether Orthodox Jews can place a religious symbol on utility poles in a Hamptons community on eastern Long Island appears headed to court.

Attorneys for the East End Eruv Association have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming officials in the town of Southampton and villages of Westhampton Beach and Quogue are infringing on their religious freedom by not allowing an eruv.

The eruv consists of small wooden strips called “lechis,” which are often placed on utility poles to create an invisible boundary that allows observant Jews within the eruv to perform manual labor, including pushing and carrying objects such as strollers and wheelchairs on Shabbat and religious holidays.

When the issue first surfaced in the Hamptons in 2008, local residents expressed concerns that allowing the eruv would lead to an influx of Orthodox Jews. — ap