In the coming months, people in Westlake Village, Agoura Hills and Oak Park may notice a construction project that involves securing fishing line to area streetlights.
This unique construction is for an eruv — a religious demarcation of an area that allows Jews to carry items within that perimeter on the Sabbath, said Rabbi Moshe Bryski of Chabad of the Conejo.
The Westlake Village City Council approved it by a 5-0 vote July 25. City Engineer John Knipe called it the “most interesting” encroachment permit the city has “ever seen.”
The permit is for the installation and maintenance of the eruv “over public right-of-way within the city” by Chabad of the Conejo, according to a report written by the city staff.
The eruv consists of a piece of fishing line attached to the top of streetlights, according to the staff report.
Jewish law dictates that on the Sabbath, which runs from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, Jews should not perform work. Bryski said work is not defined by labor or amount of effort, but “by the accomplishment of something.”
For example, “carrying a key from inside to outside a house crosses the boundary line of private to public” and is considered work, Bryski said.
The eruv allows Jews to carry things to and from synagogue — among other activities on the Sabbath — by making the area it encompasses “private property,” he said.
“What the demarcation does, it defines this property as private property,” Bryski said.
The eruv, which will be installed in the next six months, will cover an area that includes most of Agoura Hills, Oak Park and Westlake Village, Bryski said. It will use Highway 101 as one of its main boundaries.
In Westlake Village, the eruv will be installed along Lindero Canyon Road.
Prior to the council’s approval of the permit, Chabad of the Conejo had secured approval from Agoura Hills, Ventura County, Southern California Edison and the state Department of Transportation.
Knipe said Westlake Village officials looked to other cities for guidance and studied how Beverly Hills handled the installation of its eruv, which was done in the late 1970s.
“We reviewed the agreement with city of Beverly Hills, since that was the longest we could find,” Knipe said. “That was probably the biggest source of information.”
There are several eruvs in the city of Los Angeles, Knipe said.
Bryski said the eruv will help about 200 families who observe the Sabbath.
“In a greater sense, it will have a spiritual benefit to every family in it, even for those who don’t observe the Sabbath,” Bryski said.
He said the process of obtaining permits from the various cities and companies “worked beautifully.”