For Annapolis, it is the beginning of an eruv.
On Thursday, July 17, Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides held an official dedication ceremony to authorize the Maryland state capital’s new eruv around the city.
Pantelides signed the official proclamation at City Hall in the City Council chambers in the presence of Annapolis Eruv President and Kneseth Israel Rabbi Moshe Weisblum, Eruv Vice President David Cohen and Kneseth Israel President David Sliom. The new eruv, which is affiliated with Annapolis’ first synagogue, Kneseth Israel, aims to attract more Jews to the state capital.
“I had the pleasure of welcoming the president of the Eruv of Annapolis to City Hall,” Pantelides said in a statement. “As per Jewish tradition, they presented me with a silver dollar and a proclamation in accordance with Torah observant Jewish law, which constitutes payment in full for the rental rights of the domain within eruv district.”
An eruv is an enclosed area within a city or town that allows observant Jews to carry certain objects outside their homes on holy days. Some of these objects include strollers, walkers, canes, tissues and medicines. Using telephone poles and wires from BGE and Verizon, the new eruv creates a physical boundary around the designated area that makes it easier for Annapolis Jews to walk to synagogue.
David Cohen, vice president of the Eruv of Annapolis, presented a map marking the official boundaries of the eruv. Bordering Forest Drive, Tyler Avenue, Primrose Road and Spa Road, the eruv encompasses a radius of a few miles and took nearly three years to create. From receiving company utility permits to construction, the final piece of the puzzle is symbolically purchasing the land from a highly ranked city official.
“Today is a historical day for Judaism in Annapolis,” Cohen said at the ceremony. “The Annapolis Jewish community dates back over a century … The presence or absence of an eruv affects the lives of people with limited mobility and people taking care of the lives of children. The main incentive for starting the eruv project was actually to push our children to synagogue on a Saturday. Today, we are purchasing the land from the mayor for a bargain, one silver dollar.”
Weisblum believes the eruv will open new doors for the Kneseth Israel Congregation.
“I personally have been dreaming about the eruv for 12 years,” Weisblum said. “Like Martin Luther King, I have a dream. The area is connected to the synagogue and [is] part of the heart of Annapolis. Our synagogue is 108 years old, so this is big news for us.”
With hopes of increasing the framework even further, both Cohen and Weisblum anticipate larger congregations at Kneseth Israel due to the new eruv.
“After three years, I am proud to say we have completed the eruv of Annapolis,” Cohen said. “In the near future, we hope to expand the eruv to cover a larger area of Annapolis.”
The eruv is dedicated to David Cohen’s sister-in-law, Joelle Benchmuel, who died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 32, and the three Yeshiva boys, Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, who were recently murdered in Israel.
Allie Freedman is a local freelance writer.