My mother lives five states away, but I know she thinks about me every time she reads her local Jewish newspaper. Every now and then, she sends me a clipping that she thinks I’ll enjoy reading. This last time, she sent a fat envelope with multiple articles.
I began to notice a theme in a few of them. One details the dispute of a Jewish community in Venice Beach, CA. They want to erect an eruv but the residents of the beachfront fear that the fishing line that is being proposed as the eruv will spoil their ocean view. Local environmentalists are afraid that birds will fly into the line and, I suppose, decapitate themselves.
The fight in Venice Beach reminds me of two local, related stories. In one, Shabbat observant Jewish residents of a high-rise condominium want to install a Shabbat elevator and the condo board voted against it. The issue has been referred to the Maryland Commission on Human Relations.
In the third, similar story, older Shabbat-observant residents want to keep the back door of their apartment building unlocked during Shabbat so they can dramatically shorten their walk to shul, but other residents object over security concerns.
I’m not arguing for or against any of these viewpoints. It struck me that each of these news stories represent groups of American Jews who want to alter their environment to enhance their religious observance but who are being barred from doing so by other citizens.
This is one of the prices we pay for live in galus, where worldviews collide.