Tietz Center sets up eruvs

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A Jamaica Hills nursing and rehabilitation center has been working to connect orthodox Jewish communities in several northern Queens neighborhoods — literally.

Representatives from the Margaret Tietz Center gathered at Borough Hall Tuesday to celebrate the extension of a traditional structure that allows Orthodox Jews to move about on the sabbath and, more importantly, allows them access to the center at 164-11 Chapin Pkwy.

“This is important for anybody who lives in the communities,” said spokeswoman Linda Spiegel.

The structure is called an eruv and, according to Orthodox practices, Jews cannot carry anything while walking in public Saturdays unless they are enclosed by an eruv.

The eruv is crucial for the six neighborhoods surrounding the center, since many residents have elderly family members in the nursing home and hospice center or injured relatives in the rehabilitation department and need to walk to see them on Saturday, the sabbath.

The eruv acts like a fence, denoting where practicing Jews can and cannot carry something.

“It’s a series of structures that look kind of like a door frame,” said Rabbi Richard Weiss of Young Israel of Hillcrest, who helped plan and implement the project.

The series of door frames form a line, which marks the border and now includes six neighborhoods: Hillcrest, Kew Gardens Hills, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Holliswood and the nursing and rehabilitation center in Jamaica Hills.

Many surrounding neighborhoods previously had their own eruvs, and some were loosely connected,, but none connected with the center. Now Jewish residents can walk freely from one neighborhood to the other..

Spiegel said it might be the biggest eruv in the city.

The border is important because it gives the orthodox community access to the nursing and rehabilitation center, according to the facility’s rabbi.

“Orthodox people are using the facility much more now,” said Rabbi Sol Pearlman, who works at Tietz.

But this is hardly the first time the Margaret Tietz Center has reached out to the orthodox community.

It had previously changed the doors leading into the center and the elevator to conform to the orthodox practice of not using electricity on the sabbath.

In addition, Perlman said that the center operates a kosher kitchen and also provides apartment accommodations for visiting families, so they do not have to travel on the sabbath.

The eruv has been in the planning stages for nearly a year, according to Weiss, and became operational Sept. 29.

Weiss added that he, the center and other rabbis worked with the borough president’s office, which made sure to comply with city codes when building the structures.

At the Borough President Helen Marshall’s office, she presented the organizers with a proclamation stating the area where the eruv lies will be leased from the city for 99 years at the price of $1.

The funding for the eruv came from a special fund from the Beth Abraham Family of Health Services, headquartered in the Bronx, which recently bought the Margaret Tietz Center.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 6:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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