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One of the thirty-nine prohibited Shabbos labors is that of hotza’ah, carrying. A full treatment of this topic is beyond the scope of this FAQ, but on a basic level, the prohibition relates to the transfer of items between public and private domains, and the carrying of items for even short distances in public domains. Carrying items within a private domain is permitted, and the eruv is an elaborate system which renders much of our neighborhood into a singular private domain. The eruv, therefore, allows for the carrying of items on Shabbos within its space, carrying which would otherwise be prohibited.
Although our community is blessed with an eruv, it is nevertheless important to educate ourselves and our children concerning the laws and restrictions of carrying on Shabbos. The eruv’s validity cannot always be guaranteed (see below), and one must also be familiar with how to properly observe these laws when spending Shabbos in locales which are not enclosed by an eruv.
The interactive Google map below outlines this, but please note that it is not exact (it only shows the streets of the borders, but not exactly where on those streets the borders lie). A more detailed (non-interactive) map can be found here. If, on Shabbos, you are in doubt about the exact border, err on the side of caution.
The Cincinnati eruv is endorsed by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, a widely regarded posek, the rabbinic administrator of Star-K Kosher Certification, and rabbi of Agudath Israel of Baltimore Synagogue. Rabbi Heinemann is regularly consulted for guidance in maintaining the eruv, and conducts a personal survey of the eruv every ten years.
Our eruv’s regular maintenance is composed of (1) weekly checks by Rabbi Michoel Stern, (2) monthly maintenance by Rabbi Baruch Berger, (3) more thorough quarterly checks by David Alden, Rabbi Chaim Heinemann, and Izy Newmark, and (4) repairs, as needed, by David Alden. The Cincinnati Beis Din (Rabbi Ezra Goldschmiedt, Rabbi Stuart Lavenda, Rabbi David Spetner, and Rabbi Avrohom Weinrib) oversees this regular maintenance and addresses any halachic matters that arise.
While you can speak to your rabbi for details, we would note that much effort has been made to satisfy a number of relatively strict minority opinions in the construction our eruv, and that it certainly meets the standard of mainstream Orthodox communities. Nevertheless, our eruv is not able to meet all standards, and some may choose to avoid using it. Both those who use and do not use the eruv should respect each other’s approaches so that the eruv will truly unify our community.
The fixtures of our eruv are often operated on by people who do not understand its mechanics and significance (e.g. broadband, phone and power companies). Therefore, many problems have the potential to arise, and one must personally ensure that the eruv is up before each Shabbos. This can be done by consulting the eruv website, seeing our weekly postings on the CincinnatiShuls listserv, or by calling our eruv hotline (513-351- 3788). To receive an automated call concerning the eruv’s status, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
In all the years of the eruv’s existence, bad weather has not yet invalidated it. After a weekly check, you may operate under the assumption that the eruv is up, even during/following a storm.
Yes, it does! That being said, we would recommend that multiple family dwellings consisting of two or more Jewish households make an additional eruv (without a blessing) for the unlikely event that the community eruv is down. Doing so provides a backup option for carrying from, to, and within the common domains of a building. If you need assistance with such an eruv (which is much easier to create than the communal one!), please contact your rabbi.
While the eruv resolves issues concerning the prohibited Shabbos labor of hotza’ah (carrying), various activities can still be problematic regarding the many other laws, spirit, and intended goals of Shabbos. While a full treatment of these other issues is beyond the scope of this FAQ, we feel that it must be noted that athletic activities often entail the violation of other prohibitions. Additionally, athletic activities violate the spirit of Shabbos, which is meant to be a time of rest and spiritual growth. More detailed questions about various activities should be discussed with one’s rabbi.
For roadside detail, download the map here