The following text was written by Ruth Schreiber.
An Eruv is a symbolic boundary in Jewish Law, defining the area within which there is no prohibition against carrying on the Jewish Sabbath. This allows the use of wheelchairs, pushchairs, walking sticks etc. and facilitates a rich family and communal life on Shabbat.
Where available, the boundary utilizes existing fences, embankments or contiguous property lines. Otherwise, wires are suspended from utility or special posts and in this manner, a predetermined area is notionally defined. Public and private spaces are symbolically ‘mixed’ and this ‘mixing’ is the actual meaning of the Hebrew word ‘Eruv’.
The concept of the Eruv is attributed to King Solomon and Eruvim have been used in Jewish communities throughout the world since his days. In modern times, there are some 150 Eruvim in N. America, very few in post WWII Europe, and until recently, there were none in theUK. Probably this reflects the diffidence traditionally felt by British Jews in asserting their communal rights. The emergence of multi-culturalism in society in general, together with incipient pro-active religious feminism in the Jewish community in particular, set the scene for change.
In 1987 the idea of establishing an Eruv in NW London was first proposed by our local Rabbi, Alan Kimche, of the Ner Yisrael Community in Hendon. My husband David Schreiber, together with a devoted team, undertook to manage and execute the project and an Eruv of approximately11 milesin circumference was proposed. After 15 years of planning, religious and political battles, the NW London Eruv was finally inaugurated in March 2003. Since then, several other Eruvim have been set up in theUK.
My installation is a tribute to my husband’s tireless perseverance and ultimate success.
I have prepared a glass map of the NW London Eruv, set on a support which houses movement sensors and LED lights. When someone approaches within 2-3 metresof the installation, the lights go on for about 30 seconds, illuminating the map. For those who know and care about it, this represents the sanctified status of the Eruv.