The UMD Eruv Committee is a non-profit organization that maintains the University of Maryland Eruv, which encompasses the entire University of Maryland, significant areas of College Park, and sections of University Park. An eruv is a metaphysical wall, in which traditional Jews are allowed to carry objects from one area to another on the Sabbath. This includes everything from bags and books to pushing strollers and wheelchairs to wearing backpacks.

In order to construct the Eruv, the UMD Eruv Committee was required to obtain permission from the owners of the area and structures within the boundary, including Prince George’s county, Pepco, and the University of Maryland.

The UMD Eruv is under the rabbinic supervision of Rabbi Yonah Ribiat, with local halachic support from Rabbi Ari Neuman.

 


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Halachic (Jewish Law) Questions:

Q. What can I carry in the eruv?

A. Here’s a list of what you can and cannot carry. For specific questions, ask our Rabbi.

You May Carry:

Any non-muktzeh item for use on Shabbat

Tallit, Chumash, Siddur, or other books
Your house keys
Handkerchief, gloves, pocket watch
Medication
Food to hospital patients
Jackets and other clothing which you remove on warm days
Remove trash from your house if it disturbs Oneg Shabbos
Food from house to Sukkah
Reading Glasses

Activities You May Perform:

Push a baby stroller along with food and diapers
Wear a rain hat
Wear Jewelry without concern for Shabbos restrictions
Walk a dog on a leash
Push someone in a wheelchair

Activities You Still May Not Perform:

Carry items which are Muktzeh (may not be moved on Shabbos — e.g., pen)
Open or carry an umbrella
Carry anything in preparation for post-Shabbat activity

Q. I know you guys worked hard on the Eruv. Can I just assume that it will be up every week?

A. An eruv needs to be maintained on a regular basis, and should not be relied upon if no one is consistently checking it. However, it is true that if for whatever reason the Eruv committee did not get around to checking the Eruv for a week we can rely on the status quo – meaning if the Eruv was kosher last week we can assume it is still kosher. In such a case the Eruv committee should redouble their efforts to then check the Eruv on the following week. However, one can only rely on the status quo when they don’t know of any problems with the Eruv, if when checking the Eruv they find an issue with no easy fix the Eruv may be down for the week, and one may no longer rely on the status quo from the week before. Therefore everyone is encouraged to find out whether the Eruv is up at UMDEruv Facebook after 12 Noon on Friday or at least listen for Eruv announcements in shul.

General Eruv Questions:

Q. Who are you, and what exactly have you built?

A. We are students from the University of Maryland, who are maintaining an eruv, or boundary, that according to Jewish law, will allow students to carry on the Sabbath and faculty to push strollers or wheelchairs. We are either affixing small, plastic strips to the telephone poles, or using laser beams to do weekly checks to make sure the strips are in the right position so that they are under the wires.

Q. Erev, Eruv, what?

A. An Eruv, or boundary, can be explained in detail HERE

Q. You guys are looking suspicious when checking the Eruv with laser beams and hammers. How do I know if this is legit?

A. We have full permission from PEPCO, the electric utility company, who owns the telephone poles. Please call them at 202-872-2000, and use the automated system to ask to speak to Karen Lefkowitz if you have any questions. Additionally, we have full support from the University of Maryland, and have met with the County Executive’s office for Prince George’s County as well.

Q. Why are you working at night?

A. The laser beams that we are using are easier to see in the dark. We are extremely quiet at night at make every attempt to not disturb the communities we are working in.

Q. How will this Eruv affect me?

A. This Eruv will not affect you in any way, and you will likely not even notice the plastic strips that are being put up, as PEPCO, Comcast, and Verizon frequently install plastic strips to cover wires.

Please contact us with any questions, concerns, comments or let us know if you want to get involved:

Local Rabbinic Advisor: Rabbi Ari Neuman

President Hirsch Alter (halter@umd.edu)

Principal Architect: Jonathan Margolies – (jmarguli@terpmail.umd.edu)

Executive Vice President:  Josh Forgosh – (joshua4goshua@facebook.com)

Vice President: Shimon Epstein – (shimon.epstein9@gmail.com)