By Michael Jacobsmjacobs@atljewishtimes.com

The eruv in Sandy Springs is out of commission, putting temporary limits on the activities of observant Jews.

Sandy Springs eruv for Atlanta Jewish Times

Google Map via Congregation Beth Tefillah
This map shows the current borders of the Sandy Springs eruv.

Recent construction along Glenridge Road on the eruv’s northern border and Windsor Parkway on the southeastern edge ruined the doorways that form the core of the eruv’s virtual walls, said Rabbi Karmi David Ingber, the spiritual leader of The Kehilla.

“We are in great need of this,” Rabbi Ingber said. “We’re trying to work as fast as we can.”

An eruv is a virtual enclosure that turns a public space into a private space, allowing items ranging from a prayer book to a tallit to a house key to be carried and baby carriages to be pushed without violating Shabbat observance.

The Kehilla and Congregation Beth Tefillah, led by Chabad of Georgia head Rabbi Yossi New, fall within the Sandy Springs eruv. Their congregants who live within the eruv thus may carry things to and from shul and to neighbors’ homes.

The Beth Tefillah phone message that provides Friday afternoon updates on the eruv has not been updated since Feb. 20, but Rabbi Ingber sent an urgent email March 12 to warn Kehilla members that the eruv was in disrepair.

He explained in an interview that the high-tension wires running along utility poles may serve as the crossbeams on the virtual doorways that make up the eruv, but the poles themselves usually may not be considered kosher doorposts because the wires run alongside the poles instead of atop them.

The Sandy Springs eruv uses poles with caps along the sides that sit underneath the wires and thus create kosher posts, but the new construction installed poles without those caps and broke the eruv, the rabbi said.

That level of technical detail complicates the repairs to the eruv and the plans to expand it to accommodate the growing observant community in Sandy Springs inside the Perimeter and west of Ga. 400.

After a week of research into the specifics of the Sandy Springs situation, the exact nature of the fixes and the time required were still not clear, Rabbi Ingber said. But he expects the eruv to be down for at least a month.

Rabbi Yaakov Greenblatt of Memphis, an expert on eruvim, is overseeing the repair work.

Until the work is done, observant Jews in Sandy Springs have limited options.

“You have to have a lot of forethought going into Shabbos,” Rabbi Ingber said.

You can bring a prayer book to shul before Shabbat. You can bring a tallit early as well or wear it to synagogue because you are allowed to wear anything, Rabbi Ingber said. Some Kehilla members have made key belts so that they can wear their house keys as part of their clothes.

But the prohibition on carrying will remain as long as the eruv is down.

“We want this up as soon as possible,” Rabbi Ingber said. “Sometimes it’s not so easy.”