New Orthodox Jewish Eruv in Pinetree Park Raises Constitutional Questions

Mary Baker knows Pinetree Park like the back of her hand. Every morning, she walks her dogs beneath its eponymous pines. And every evening, she returns. As the setting sun glints off Indian Creek to the east, butterflies flit around the community garden. On an island infamous for sin, the park is a rare outpost of peace.

Last summer, however, Baker was walking along the water when she spotted two men erecting a pair of 15-foot-tall, pale plastic poles and connecting them with a long, thin white string. When Mary asked what the men were doing, they ignored her. She threatened to call the city. "We are the city," replied a man with a bushy beard and a black hat.

Soon, more poles appeared. They, too, were strung together, like a giant spider web slowly surrounding the park. Baker was baffled.

"It's an eruv," one of Baker's Orthodox Jewish friends finally explained.

See also: Strings Attached: Orthodox Jews in Miami Beach consider it a harmless symbol, but others believe it violates the U.S. Constitution

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.