The New West Valley Eruv Expands Possibilities for an Observant Jewish Community

By

Ruth Judah

On December 16th, the West Valley Eruv was finally completed. Attendees at the opening included Rabbi Shlomo Lalezarian, Rabbi Meyer May of the Simon Weisenthal Center and Councilmember Paul Koretz. MC Ira Leibowitz introduced Rabbi Moshe Heinemann who flew into town from Baltimore to give his blessing on the project. An eruvin specialist, Rabbi Heinemann carefully examined the eruv and confirmed it was kosher and ready for use saying, “Mazel Tov on your very own Eruv which is built according to halacha and the minhag Yisroel dating back to the days of Europe.” The ceremony was also attended by a vibrant gathering of more than 200 who came to the Eretz Cultural Center where they acknowledged the generosity and support for the Eruv campaign that came from Mr. Alon and Mrs. Rosana Miller.

The completion of the eruv involved many community leaders who worked together for the last six years, including Rabbi Dovid Horwitz Rav of Makor HaChaim. Rabbi Horwitz reminisced that it was back in 2012 that a key issue was solved when the Millers graciously agreed to cover the cost of the eruv, saying their support was all encompassing, “Whatever it costs, we’ll be there. And we’ll take the mitzvah as well!” They were as good as their word and Mrs. Miller became the secretary and treasurer of the West Valley Eruv Society. Rabbi Horwitz explained that, “She was undoubtedly the steam engine that drove all the efforts, from plans, to city lobbying, to permits and then with legal issues.

Rabbi Horwitz acknowledged the dedication of so many participants in the creation of the eruv and said that Rabbi Eidlitz, the Rav HaMachsir of the East Valley Eruv, was tangential in recreating the eruv map that was smaller than the original plan and far more realistic. He explained that, “Rabbi Eidlitz is a master of practicality and halacha and was already instrumental in the building of the East Valley Eruv so he had an understanding of the process and was able to work productively with Rabbi Shlomo Lalezarian who had conceived the original layout for the eruv. Still, it wasn’t so easy. Every city has unique needs when erecting an eruv and costs and complications are part of the process.”

For 25 years the eruv had been in the works, yet the original layout was for the eruv to spread across a vast area. Given the proliferation of trees and foliage in the neighborhoods to the west of the 405, add to this windy streets that are endemic to the area but are treacherous to a reliable eruv structure, add the high cost of securing permits and approvals and it is clear why the plans were stalled for so long.
The complexity of running an eruv was complicated by other elements including Cal Trans and government and city officials who required a laborious process in their journey to approve permits. Attorneys were required and that led to a higher cost. Ultimately, as with the best plans in life, the effort paid off and Encino and Tarzana now have a kosher eruv that covers more than 15 square miles and includes the homes of hundreds of families and approximately 15 shuls.

This is timely as Tarzana and Encino neighborhoods are growing with a younger generation of shomer Shabbat families who are shaping the communities. Now, many streets have become alive on Shabbat. Rabbi Horwitz admitted he has been receiving an increasing number of calls from families in the city and even from out of state, who are considering a move to the West Valley where they can afford a larger home and can enjoy the easier lifestyle with lower cost schooling, a variety of kosher stores and butchers, more greenery and less of the city hubbub. There is something relaxing about raising children in this countrified space.