Day 31

The Manhattan Eruv

January 30th, 2012

If you look closely at the very top of the lamppost, you might be able to make out two taut pieces of fishing line, one running toward the top and one toward the left side of the photo. They are part of the Manhattan Eruv, an eruv being a ritual enclosure in which observant Jews are allowed to carry things in public on Shabbat (the Sabbath), which would otherwise be forbidden. Eruvs are inspected regularly, and a break was found in the Manhattan Eruv a few months ago on a Friday afternoon, hours before the start of Shabbat, in an area near the United Nations where access was restricted because the UN General Assembly was meeting.

I took this photo at the intersection of 8th Avenue and 56th Street, looking north. All the maps I can find online show the eruv running straight along 56th Street here, but you can see in the photo that it turns south onto 8th Avenue. Perhaps it was recently altered to include a larger area?


  1. So interesting. I love learning about all these cultures in New York.

  2. Dan says:

    Matt, How do you know all this stuff?? :-) Just looked at the map and it goes right past my building. I have noticed that string in the past, never new what it was for. Thanks!! BTW, I love following along on your walk.

  3. Dorinda from Mentor, Oh. says:

    So they use government property-the light pole- to connect this eruv which is a religious thing. Who puts the wires up there?

  4. tna says:

    All the gods must like string. I have a hindu friend who wears a simple string around his neck. And this string around a city. With god the relationship is definately not “no strings attached”.

  5. RAYMOND in ALABAMA says:


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