This past month was an historic one for the Jewish community in Northern Virginia: the first with our Fairfax Eruv up and running. It’s been heartwarming to see how the eruv has already enhanced the lives of many. Most moving to me has been seeing families with young children able to come to services on Shabbat in strollers. An eruv builds community and brings it closer together.
We continue to make progress on our eruv, and will continue to keep you up to date. Just a few days ago we received a permit from the Federal Highway Administration to install a fence which will make our eruv sturdier, and we are still working to expand the eruv to include INOVA Fairfax hospital. Plans are also in the works to have a Grand Opening community celebration. Watch this space for details!
The focus of this update is fundraising. We remain deeply grateful to the significant grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and foundational gifts from our community to get the eruv established. But we need your help to sustain the eruv as the focus of the Fairfax Eruv Committee transitions from construction to operations and maintenance. Your gift will help us cover expenses such as the premiums for required insurance, the repair of broken lechis, structural improvements, and the weekly inspections to ensure the eruv is kosher: week after week and year after year.
The end of 2021 is less than two months away and we ask that you consider this time to make a tax-deductible gift to help us reach our goal of $18,000. We are so proud that we were able to establish a eruv that, from its inception, is halachically strong with resilient construction techniques. In contrast, many communities have an operational budget that is significantly larger than ours.
Please consider one of the tax-savings ideas listed on our Donate page that could reduce your taxes while supporting the Fairfax Eruv.
Fairfax eruv ready for its first Shabbat
The physical part of our eruv was completed this morning! The only remaining item is the actual setting of “the eruv chatzeiros”. The is accomplished by setting aside communally owned ready-to-eat food to indicate that it is as though everyone who owns a share of the food was living in one area.
And so on this coming Wednesday night, October 13, we will designate our eruv with a community get together. We will do this halachic and historical act right after Ma’ariv services (8:00 pm) at our local Chabad (3939 Prince William). Refreshments and l’chaims will be served (of course!) and a few toasts will be in order.
How will you know if the eruv is up on a given week? Good question! There are multiple ways to find out. First, it’s right up top on our website pages and you can find out more about the status on any given week by clicking on "eruv status" up top. Secondly, you can (and are encouraged to) sign up to receive an email or text (or both) each week that will announce if the eruv is up or not. Click here to sign up.
Our heartfelt and sincere thanks goes out to those organizations, the politicians, and utility companies who supported us every step of the way, the many volunteers, the rabbis who helped us, all of our donors (we put your money to good use!), and our fellow committee members who worked very hard (in between weekly meetings), for nearly two years.
Meet the Fairfax Eruv
We are excited to announce that the eruv is almost completely up and opperational! Please sign up to our new mailing list to receive a text or email weekly with the most up-to-date eruv status.
Sign up form can be found under the "eruv status" tab, located at the top of the page.
We are literally over 99% finished with our eruv. There are about 550 items to take care of with the eruv, and all but four have been constructed and inspected.
Rabbi Micha Shotkin came back down from NJ to install the remaining items of the eruv. The "Rav HaMachshir" of our eruv, national expert Rabbi Chaim Jachter performed his second in-person inspection and pronounced himself highly satisfied with the level of thoroughness by which the eruv has been constructed. Rabbi Deitsch and Rabbi Kalender continue to be very supportive.
All that remains is one more permit. As soon as it comes through, we’ll take care of the final pieces, and we’ll be good to go!
On Tuesday night, the Fairfax City Council unanimously approved our license agreement to install lechis on utility poles in the city. They went out of their way to express support for our project, and were delighted to be a part of it all. Thank you! In other news, Rabbi Shotkin came down from NJ and installed approximately 80% of our eruv.
NoVa to be ringed by two ritual enclosures
The Fairfax Eruv Committee (FEC) is seeking Eruv Inspectors and Eruv Drivers. This is a great and meaningful way to earn a few extra dollars each week. More information on these opportunities, including how to apply, is below.
Eruv Inspector: Perform weekly inspections of the eruv.
For more information: Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eruv Inspection Driver: Ferry inspectors to perform weekly checks of the eruv.
For more information: Please email: email@example.com
It has been said that when the road ahead looks challenging, sometimes taking a look back to see how far one has come can put things into better perspective. Looking back over 2020, we can gain strength from seeing the tremendous progress that we've made during an otherwise challenging year for many.
The highlights of the past year include: organizing a committee to take on this project and incorporating as a 501(c)(3) organization; successfully applying for a significant grant from the Federation of Greater Washington; and figuring out a rather large route (19-20 miles!) for our eruv boundary that has been approved by national eruv expert Rabbi Chaim Jachter.
To this, we can add two more benchmarks: generous contributions from you to help support the project, and "sechiras reshus."
Last month we had a Zoom Siyyum on Maseches Eruvin (a celebratory get together marking the completion of the Tractate of Eruvin) which we combined with a Community Open House, during which we shared our eruv boundary map, discussed progress we have made, answered questions, and so forth. I was particularly happy that during the Zoom meeting itself, we received a contribution to our project.
If you haven't contributed already, I hope you will consider doing so to a project that will directly impact the lives of Jews in Fairfax in so many positive ways, both short term and long term. You can donate online here.
Thank you to Federation and to our other partners: Pozez JCC, Gesher Jewish Day School, Chabad of Northern Virginia, Chabad of George Mason, Olam Tikvah, Hillel of George Mason, and AEPi.
The committee has accomplished three major benchmarks: (a) getting a significant grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington; (b) mapping out a route, pole by pole, inch-by-inch; and (c) getting halachic approval of that route from our Rav HaMachshir (supervising rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Jachter of Teaneck) and we were embarking on our fourth phase: (d) getting all the approvals that we need.
As you can imagine, we need a lot of permissions (Dominion, Verizon, Fairfax City, Fairfax County, the Hospital, VDOT, and more), but these efforts are going well and moving forward with each stakeholder. We've signed an agreement with Dominion and we have the go ahead from the hospital and the County. We have met with County, City, and State elected officials, all of whom have expressed strong support for the project and offered to assist as needed. When we have secured all the permissions we need, we will move to the construction phase, which we estimate will take about two weeks to complete.
The rabbis teach us that there's no such thing as a coincidence. It turns out that in the Daf Yomi program (the world's largest book club - participants learn one page of Talmud a day, taking 7-1/2 years to complete) we are currently studying Tractate Eruvin! This, precisely, is the source in Oral Law from which we learn about eruvin and its various laws. We will finish this tractate on Sunday, November 22, and we will have a Zoom-style siyyum to celebrate its completion as well as hold a virtual open house discussion of the current state of our eruv, including introductory remarks by Rabbi Chaim Jachter and other community leaders. We hope you will join us for the siyyum and informational meeting - 6pm, November 22. Please register by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven't already done so, we ask that you consider making a gift to support this important community project. As you can imagine, construction of the eruv, coupled with maintenance and weekly inspections, will require financial resources. As noted above, Federation has made an important and generous grant and a number of our community members have also pledged support and made contributions. Your generous contribution now can help ensure that we reach this important community milestone. More information on how you can make a tax deductible donation today can be found here.
The Fairfax Eruv Committee extends our deepest thanks to the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington who awarded a generous grant to support the design and construction of an Eruv in Central Fairfax. We would also like to thank our community donors and our partner organizations for their meaningful support towards the completion of this project.
The Eruv design is now under review by the relevant government authorities as well as utility and property owners. IY"H we will have all approvals in hand by late fall so that construction may commence. To be added to our community email list, please contact us email us at email@example.com.