Federal Court: Eruv May Remain In Westhampton Beach

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. -

A panel of federal judges on Tuesday upheld a lower court judge’s ruling that the eruv erected in a Hamptons beach community can stay.

“Religious freedom is triumphing in the Hamptons,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesman for the East End Eruv Association, which has been seeking to erect eruvin throughout the Hamptons since at least 2008.

Three judges of the 2nd Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals found the zone does not violate Constitutional issues regarding separation of church and state, as claimed in a 2012 lawsuit by a group called the Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach.

“No reasonable observer who notices the strips on LIPA utility poles would draw the conclusion that a state actor is thereby endorsing religion,” the judges wrote in their ruling.

The eruv debate has raged since 2008. It turned ugly when opponents said that it would attract more Orthodox Jews to the tony neighborhood.

Estelle Lubliner, a member of the anti-eruv group, told The New York Times in 2013 she feared the eruv “will make more Orthodox people come in, and it’s not right to the history of these towns.”

The eruv was finally constructed in August after getting the go-ahead of a federal judge. That verdict will remain, after Tuesday’s affirmation by the appeals court.

Westhampton’s community has about 20 Orthodox families, but it grows tenfold in the summer. Their victory is not complete; two other lawsuits on the dispute are pending.