Leaders seek to regulate some Jewish religious structures in Orange County

Posted: Updated:
WOODBURY -

A push to regulate some Jewish religious structures in an Orange County community is raising allegations of discrimination.

Residents who live in Woodbury may see religious structures called eruvs. An eruv is a string tied to several poles that allows Jewish residents to carry prohibited things within its boundaries during certain holy times, including house keys, medicine and even children.

And as a housing crisis in Kiryas Joel causes more Hasidic Jewish families to move to neighboring areas like Woodbury, eruvs are apparently becoming more common and noticeable.

Village leaders say they want to regulate them with a new law.

“The same way we regulate fences, sheds, decks ... things like that." says Woodbury Mayor Mike Queenan. “Some people were concerned they were being put across their property, across public roads, tied to people's fences and signs."

Queenan says that as long as it's workable and sensible, it's not a problem to have the limitations.

Others are critical, including Kiryas Joel's school Superintendent Joel Petlin, who posted on Twitter comparing eruvs to utility lines. The Facebook private group Kiryas Joel Headquarters made a remark, saying "Using local laws to zone out religious observance is wrong, illegal and will result in litigation."

A public hearing on the proposed eruv restriction will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Highland Mills Firehouse.

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