Our History

The Monsey Eruv: A Quarter Century of Selfless Service to the Rockland County Community

Known for its sprawling green lawns and its relatively relaxed place, it is surprising to realize that Money is recognized for a communal assetthat one might expect to find in a larger, more populated Jewish neighborhood - one of the largest and complex eruvin in the world. Constructing an eruv that covers such a vast amount of space and involves multiple halachic issues is no small feat, and it has taken 25 years of effort, relationship building and incredible siyatadishmaya to create the Rockland County eruv of today.

Historically, Monsey has been home to multiple eruvin for decades, some dating back as far back as the sixties and seventies. Those small privately constructederuvin covered groups of streets here and there and even some small neighborhoods, but by the winter of 1995-1996, Monsey’s rabbonim got together and agreed that with the community’s continued growth, the time had come to establish a central organization that would oversee all of the local eruvin and place them under the auspices of a single rabbinical authority. The Monsey Eruv Association was established to ensure the highest level of kashrus throughout the Monsey area, and it began the extensive task of supervising all of the local eruvin under the watchful eye of its ba’almachshir, Rabbi Yechiel Steinmetz shlita.

2002 - One Community, One Eruv
As the more and more people flocked to Monsey, the community’s explosive growth made it difficult to maintain the Monsey Eruv Association’s high standards of kashrus across the board. People were moving into neighborhoods that had once been considered the outskirts of Monsey and some of the many eruvin that cropped up relied on strings running through private properties and across roadways. There were areas where some blocks were covered by the eruv while others were not, illustrating the clear need for one master, centralized eruv to cover all of the places that had suddenly become Jewish neighborhoods.
There was only one solution to the problem – using the existing utility poles that lined practically every street and their attached wires to create the eruv. The Monsey Eruv Association met with Orange & Rockland and opened negotiations with the utility, a process that lasted for three years, with a formal contract was signed in 2005. With the eruv also running through lands controlled by the New York State Thruway Authority in multiple locations, similar discussions were held with that agency as well and all of the necessary permits were granted.
2015 - Continued Growth Sparks Opposition
Affordable housing and a better quality of life continued drawing new families to Monsey and the community’s borders continued expanding far beyond anything that anyone could have ever imagined even ten years earlier. That reality didn’t sit well with some local residents, and realizing how much an eruv contributed to Jewish life, they called on O&R to ban the Monsey Eruv Association from using its poles. Hoping to keep everyone happy, O&R proposed that the Monsey Eruv Association register as a utility company and pay a rental fee for every pole used, a significant change from the agreement negotiated between the two parties just ten years earlier. The Monsey Eruv Association found itself in a difficult position and a team of rabbonim and askonim were called in to debate the proposal. Ultimately, the Monsey Eruv Association agreed to O&R’s terms because it was clear that an active agreement with a utility was necessary to maintain, operate and repair the eruv and that with the expected continued growth, the eruv’s boundaries would only be increasing over time. The Monsey Eruv Association revised its longstanding contract with O&R, paid the per-pole rental fees and in exchange, received exclusive permits to operate on and attach devices to the company’s utility poles.

From Rockland to Bergen

At the same time, the growth of new neighborhoods in Airmont and Chestnut Ridge that reached all the way to the New Jersey border created additional challenges. The eruv was extended from Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern all the way to Nanuet but because of geographic realities, not all areas could be completely covered without having the necessary permits in place to use utility poles located in New Jersey. Residents of those new areas found that there were certainspots where the eruv ended in the middle of the street, and others where some houses on a block were within the eruv while others were not, a problem that could necessitated bringing the eruv down into New Jersey.
Representatives of the Monsey Eruv Association sat down with the local utility companies – Rockland Electric and Verizon New Jersey – and drew up contracts allowing them to extend the eruv into Bergen County in order to accommodate thosewho lived in Airmont and Chestnut Ridge and remained outside the eruv.
2017 - Proposed Eruv Ban Fails
The Monsey Eruv Association’s biggest obstacle to date arose in 2017 when New Jersey municipalities that shared a border with Rockland County enacted ordinances banning the attachment of devices to utility poles without proper consent from the local municipality. Governments in those areas made it abundantly clear that no such permissions would be granted and they ordered that the eruv be dismantled.
The Monsey Eruv Association responded by creating an entity known as the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association, which hired a team of high profile attorneys. Three separate lawsuits were filed,charging the townships of Mahwah, Montvale and Upper Saddle Riverwith civil and religious rights violations. After 15 months of legal actions and thousands of hours of work, a judge advised the municipalities to negotiate a deal with the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association, explaining that their chances of winning were extremely slim.
Baruch Hashem, we were able to work out an amicable arrangement with local officials and have, over time, also been able to create a positive, respectful relationship. We consider this to be a best case scenario, one that allows us to be a good neighbor while also having the ability to maintain and expand the eruv with all of the associated hidurim. We are truly grateful for the hashgacha pratis that set the stage for these latest, positive developments – our attorneys impressed upon us that the fact that we had signed a contract to pay O&R for use of its poles in 2015 was the key point in our case. That single act proved that we are a utility company like all others, and that the townships had no right to discriminate against us.

North, South, East and West

While the eruv’s expansion into New Jersey made headlines, our teams were also busy during that time building out in all directions to accommodate the Monsey area’s phenomenal growth. Two new sections were added inPomona and Chestnut Ridge, with two more created to incorporate Montebello into the eruv. New sections were also added in New City, Hillcrest and Haverstraw, while another large section in Suffern connected Good Samaritan Hospital to the Monsey eruv, providing people with the opportunity to carry between their homes and the hospital. All of this new growth was possible because of the revised contract signed with O&R in 2015.

Eruv Facts

Given its continued expansion in all directions, the current Monsey eruv has grown to be the most complex and largest eruv in the world. The Monsey eruv:
  • Covers 42.3 square miles collectively, more than any other single eruv and utilizes nearly 3,000 utility poles.
  • Was built without relying on previously built walls, fences or structures for any of its major portions and was physically erected almost in entirety, which includes 14 linear miles of fencing.
  • Is inspected weekly by a team of 60 bodkim- a process that covers 121.9 linear miles of boundaries
  • Consists of twelve separate sections, consisting of over twenty subsections, each of which can remain individually kosher on its own, without have to rely on any other section.
Our hearts overflow with gratitude to the RibonoShel Olam for allowing us to come as far as we have. We quote the words of Nishmasaswe extend this heartfelt tefilah – “Until now Your mercy has helped us and Your kindness has not forsaken us; please do not abandon us going forward” – and ask Hakadosh Baruch Hu to help us continue our sacred mission benefiting Klal Yisroel, for many years to come, without any interference.