OBSERVANT Jewish families will be able to lead more practical lives after a recent favourable planning decision.
The 1,100-strong Belmont United Synagogue won permission from Harrow Council’s planning committee on Wednesday for the siting of 17 6m-high gateways, or sets of token posts with a wire strung between them, around Harrow to mark the boundary of a special area called an eruv.
Inside an eruv, Judaism’s Shabbat restriction on followers undertaking any work-related weekday activities in public such as using any form of transport or carrying everyday items such as spectacles, house keys or medication does not apply and so people can move around freely without having to impinge on their faith or curb their modern lifestyles.
The synagogue’s Rabbi Elchonon Feldman and his wife Jacqueline and their four children welcomed the council decision as they had found the prohibition very taxing as a family.
He said: “The Jewish community at Belmont feel so grateful that the council remained so in favour of increasing and helping all our ethnicities enjoy their religious practices. of
“The personal benefit is that it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to utilise the Shabbat in the most prominent way, recreationally and gathering with our friends, as well as attending services.
“In terms of the synagogue, it’s bigger leap forward as it will allow the entire community – disabled people as well as the elderly and young families – to have the same level of access as other communities in other parts of London.”
The new eruv will be an extension of the Stanmore and Canons Park eruv, established in December 2011, and installation of the gateways will begin soon with an estimated completion date of the end of October or November.
Mr Feldman said: “It’s very exciting as we’re going to have a visit from the new Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and we’re going to welcome him for one of the Shabbats. “It will be a good moment in time for him to consecrate the eruv.”
The Stanmore and Canons Park eruv borders the Edgware eruv, which in turn lies adjacent to the north-west London eruv covering Hendon and Golders Green – creating a sizeable eruv corridor through Harrow and Barnet boroughs.