Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006 | Just about the time I figured I had enough to keep me busy with my carping about the cross on the mountain, working with Phil Paulson to write his memoirs, and reading hate mail telling me how hateful I am, along comes eruv.

I don’t know why, but it just seems like eruv should be capitalized. Of course not much about eruv lends itself to logic. Unless you have faith, of course.

Would I be considered anti Jewish, or possibly even anti religious (God forbid!), if I asked why the city decided to get involved in this?

The Congregation Adat Yeshurun persuaded the City Council to designate a part of La Jolla including a section of La Jolla Shores Drive as an eruv – an extension of the home for orthodox Jews. As it is, they are not allowed to do any sort of work outside the home on the Sabbath. Having a handy eruv allows them to perform such onerous tasks as carrying an umbrella or even a push a child in a pram without offending the creator of the universe. Part of the boundaries would be marked by an unobtrusive wire.

The participation of the city would be limited to allowing the wires to be strung and to give official recognition of the area as an eruv.

About 100 cities do something like that already. San Diego’s first one was designated out by SDSU. The biggest city in the country, as well as the nation’s capital, also have the things. In fact, when he deigns to stay in Washington and pay some attention to the war he started, George sits right in the middle of one. Yep, an eruv encompasses both the White House and the Supreme Court.

I wonder why none of this makes me feel better. Of course religious trappings, even crosses on mountains, never do much for me.

Still, this was something I knew little about. I called Morris Casuto, regional director of the Anti Defamation League. Casuto feels the eruv doesn’t present any sort of challenge to the separation of church and state, something he’s otherwise strongly in favor of.

He had testified before the City Council and posed a rhetorical question: When your neighbor comes to you and asks for your assistance for something that wouldn’t hurt you, which is legal, and which would cost you nothing, what would you, as a good neighbor do?

City Council member, Jim Madaffer is quoted as saying “I just think there are people in La Jolla that simply still don’t like folks of the Jewish faith. All I can say is get over it.”

Well, like all bleeding heart liberals, I have my requisite share Jewish friends and I don’t want them to join the multitude of Christians who are already upset at me for my belief that the thing on top of Mount Soledad is really a cross and that it doesn’t represent me.

I just don’t think the city has any business of being in the business of helping a religious organization sanctify public property, not even if it doesn’t cost the city anything, or if it makes the people feel better.

Somewhere along the line, someone will want to erect something more obtrusive than a wire across a street and will justify it by the fact that the city recognizes an eruv. Whatever it is doesn’t need to be a Jewish something. As long as it’s approved by the city, it’s a precedent.

Our religiosity is running amok and citing precedent, while ignoring the constitution, is rife. Every time any of us complains about a law based on religion, he is told this is a Christian (sometimes Judeo Christian). Then we hear about all the things that got going because they won’t harm anybody: In God we trust on our money, Under God in the pledge. God Bless America in the seventh inning, a statue of Moses in the Supreme Court, Laus Deo atop Washington’s Monument are a few examples.

The end result is laws based on belief not facts. Stem cell research has been held back for that reason. Agency for International Development money is withheld to countries who even mention abortion in their official literature. Wars are started by folks who claim a mandate from God.

The phrase separation of church and state may not be found verbatim in the Constitution but it’s such a good idea we ought to try it more often, even if the church is a synagogue. And as for those folks who want to know where God says it’s okay for them to carry an umbrella? I say the synagogue ought to give its members a map.

Keith Taylor is program chair for the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry He can be reached at

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