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Thursday, September 20, 2018

In an exciting nod toward the future, the West Orange community expanded its eruv this fall to include St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. The project was generously sponsored by West Orange residents Drs. Roz Feder Lipsky and Marvin Lipsky in memory of Roz’s parents, Walter and Cecile Feder, z”l.

Roz said that the couple’s decision to dedicate the eruv was truly an effort to “pay it forward. We want other people to feel that when they have been beneficiaries of true generosity and magnanimity, it is important for them to pay it forward in appreciation.”

She continued, “Often, people are in the mindset of enjoying generosity and demonstrating their appreciation with heartfelt thanks. We wanted to shift that mindset to one of proactively giving back, especially when they have benefited from a community service.”

Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler, spiritual leader of Congregation AABJ&D, noted that Roz and Marvin were “very generous in making sure this came about.”

The eruv expansion was a hypothetical idea for two or three years, with no forward motion. At that time, Roz was actively involved in chesed activities in the community, and had previously been involved in bikur cholim at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, which was within the eruv.

“I have known Joe Rozehzadeh for many years,” Roz told The Jewish Link, when discussing the impetus for the expansion. “He and his wife, Laurie, have been involved in many bikur cholim activities including, but not limited to, supplying kosher food for patients and their families, finding housing for patients’ visitors, visiting patients and making minyanim for them.”

“I asked Joe what he needed most for his bikur cholim efforts and he said he needed the eruv to be expanded to include the hospital,” she remembered.

“I told him, ‘I don’t know how long it will take, but I’ll get it done.’ My plan at the time was to make sure that the eruv was expanded in a manner consistent with the halachic standards that were already in place, Rabbi Eider’s standard, and to arrange funding in some way,” Roz said.

By that point, Roz’ parents had each benefited from the bikur cholim of the West Orange and Livingston communities when they stayed in area health care facilities. After they passed away, Roz and Marvin decided that they didn’t want to merely raise the money; they wanted to donate the money themselves, in her parents’ memory. “My parents had been the beneficiaries of the bikur cholim in this area and I wanted to make it easier for others to benefit as well.”

Once the decision was made, Roz set out to get the area rabbis on board. “I was determined to get it done. Because I had been involved in bikur cholim myself, I understood the need for this expansion and how much it would help the community,” Roz recalled.

Roz first met with Rabbi Zwickler to determine the best way to begin the process. “I knew we had to make sure we could physically do it,” remembered Rabbi Zwickler. “We knew if we were going forward, we would have to set it up wherever we could halachically put it. We consulted with Rabbi Jachter from Teaneck. He is the go-to for these issues.”

Rabbi Jachter and Rabbi Zwickler drove and walked the route together and were able to plan a path that was halachically permissible. “He came out a few times to check on the progress,” Rabbi Zwickler said.

“Just like when the eruv was originally established, we knew it needed to be as universally accepted as possible,” Rabbi Zwickler stated, “so we continued to use Rabbi Eider’s standard.”

The West Orange eruv was first established in 1983, under the leadership of Rabbi Alvin Marcus, rabbi emeritus of Congregation AABJ&D, and Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel, with the halachic guidance of Rabbi Shimon Eider, z”l, of Lakewood. The eruv was expanded about 10 years ago to include Daughters of Israel and Kessler, and today there are walking groups that visit every Shabbat and Yom Tov.

“It was only a matter of time before we did this,” Rabbi Zwickler said. “It was a natural next step.”

Praising Rabbi Zwickler’s dedication to the project, Roz recalled, “From the moment Rabbi Zwickler embraced the idea, he was a true champion for the eruv.”

Although Roz’ parents did not spend much time at St. Barnabas, they both had been at Kessler and had been the beneficiaries of bikur cholim visits, made possible by the existence of the eruv. When they decided to fund the expansion project, Roz and Marvin knew they wanted to give other families and patients the same opportunities.

The Dr. and Mrs. Walter Feder Memorial West Orange Eruv was officially dedicated in October. The expansion follows “Pleasant Valley Way to South Orange Avenue, and then goes from one side of the street to the other, so to walk I always recommend that people walk up Route 10 and make a left onto Laurel and continue to the hospital,” Rabbi Zwickler said. “Technically, part of the eruv goes through Livingston,” he continued. For more specific walking directions, visit the eruv website at westorangeeruv.org/maps.

Roz said, “Livingston has made the eruv a priority as well. They have joined with West Orange and their eruv has been repaired and reconfigured such that both communities will be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance.”

Like a shul, mikvah and yeshiva, an eruv is an integral part of any observant Jewish community, and the expansion of the eruv is seen as an important step in ensuring the continued growth of the West Orange Orthodox community.

“The success of the eruv is important in recruiting young people to move here,” said Roz. “It is an important asset in an Orthodox community.”

The eruv is currently under the rabbinic authority of Rabbi Zwickler and Rabbi Marc Spivak of Congregation Ohr Torah. The eruv is maintained and checked weekly by Reuven Meir Herrera. The continued upkeep of the eruv is credited to the time and effort of a number of dedicated volunteers in the community. While the expansion has been fully funded, weather and time often create the need for repairs. Please contact [email protected] or call 973-736-1407 ext. 216 with any questions, or to donate or volunteer, or visit westorangeeruv.org.

By Jill Kirsch