Monday, June 23, 2008

The importance of an eruv in Modern Orthodox communities

Harry Maryles writes about controversy surrounding the West Rogers Park eruv in Chicago and how most of the Yeshivish community does not use it.

What struck me is that ironically, an eruv is more important to a Modern Orthodox community today than to a Chassidish or Yeshivish one. And the more modern, the more important.

While in a more religiously right-wing community, most women are content to stay home with small children, as in shul they would only be walled up behind a high mechitza listening to the men, in Modern Orthodox communities, women tend to come to shul in much greater numbers. And this is especially so in the more Liberal Orthodox shuls, where women are actually given a role of some sort. Without an eruv, parents of very small children would be forced to decide which of them stays home.

30 to 40 years ago, the difference between Yeshivish and Modern Orthodox in women’s roles in shul did not vary much beyond the height of the mechitza. But today, with women’s participation rising, the eruv is an integral part of the Shabbat environment of a Modern Orthodox community.

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