My Friend, Bobby Williams from Philadelphia, sent me a text over the weekend asking me if I knew that there was an 18-mile translucent wire that covers the outer rim of Manhattan.
I immediately knew what he was talking about. He was blown away that I knew about the wire, but he didn’t. He’s African American and I’m Jewish. That’s didn’t matter. He said he had enough Jewish friends over the years that he should have heard something about it. He is also a voracious reader. How did he miss it?
The truth is that many Jews know nothing about the wire, called an eruv. I learned about it years ago when I had a second home in the Hamptons. Religious Jews in my neighborhood were required to buy homes where wires hung from utility poles. The wires provided ritual enclosures. It turned public space into private areas.
An eruv does circle Manhattan. It’s pretty incredible when you think about it. Look at the map. The eruv can also be found in many cities around the United States including St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, and Dallas.
There is really a wonderful story about the construction and maintenance of eruvs in the video. I watched it and it’s fascinating. A publication called Mental Floss has a wonderful explanation as well. Click here.
We all learn something new everyday. Thank you Bobby.