Shabbat is a day set apart by Jewish law from the working week. Family time and spiritual pursuits are emphasised and weekday activities associated with work are prohibited.
Our Jewish religious code spells out the Shabbat restrictions. For example, carrying and pushing wheelchairs, prams and baby buggies are only permitted in homes, private gardens and community areas. An eruv is a boundary recognised by Jewish law, within which these activities are permitted.
There are well over 200 eruvim in communities throughout the world and many more in Israel. Most major Jewish communities in North America have one, as do the communities in Antwerp, Gibraltar, Strasbourg, Venice, Johannesburg, Melbourne and Sydney.
An eruv makes Shabbat observance more pleasant in many ways. The North West London eruv, undere the auspices of the London Beth Din and the Edgware eruv enable many thousands of Jewish people living in the area to enjoy Shabbat to the full.
Eruvim are especially helpful to families with young children who want to use a pram or baby buggy outside their home on Shabbat and to people who use a wheelchair or walking frame. Others will find it useful to be able to carry house keys, reading glasses or books to a shiur.
Before the eruvim were developed, families with young children were home-bound each Shabbat. Many couples who had children too young to walk to synagogue could not attend a Shabbat service together, nor a kiddush or simcha. Grandparents are now able to host their younger grandchildren on Shabbat. Shabbat events are accessible to all families - young and old, mobile and less mobile. Everyone can now join in the Shabbat religious and social life of the community.