With the successful completion of the eruv this week, it is appropriate to look back on the decade of effort that went into this project and briefly examine the path forward. The current effort started in 2005 with the purchase of a reference book, The Contemporary Eruv by R. Yosef Bechhofer and the formation of a committee within Congregation Tiferet Israel. Progress in our preliminary efforts included examining and cataloging power poles that could define the limits of the eruv and consideration of the political issues that could impact the formation of the eruv. As these activities evolved, the Austin Eruv Committee was formally incorporated in 2009 with the office of the Secretary of State in Texas as an independent community organization. The JCAA graciously agreed to handle many of the financial bookkeeping issues and established the eruv fund in the JCAA. Much of the early effort in the greater community (Northwest Hills Home Owners Association, Austin City Council. and Mayor) was led by Gary Susswein and included Randi Shade, former city council member, Clay Basser-Wall, legal representation and Carole Dochen, Realtor. Rob Kleinman, legal representative, coordinated the contractual details with Austin Energy and provided on-going advice. These efforts led to the excellent relations we now enjoy with the greater community and Austin Energy, which did the actual construction.
Although this project started prior to engaging a Rabbi at Congregation Tiferet Israel, many Rabbis have been involved. In 2007, R. David Blier of the Action Kollel did much of the preliminary scouting which led to the Google Map we are using to this day. R. Eliezer Langer of CTI continued with refining many of the requirements and exploring the multitude of possibilities for the construction of the eruv over a 6 year period and R. Dan Millner of CTI who, with a focus on finishing the eruv in a timely manner, led the final phases for the completion of the eruv. Several recognized rabbinical authorities participated in the process, including R. Yossi Grossman of Houston, R. Ephraim Greenblatt zt’l of Memphis, R. Yonah Ribiat of Baltimore, R. Moshe Heinimann of Baltimore and R. Yaakov Love of New Jersey.
Many people participated in the eruv development, with special thanks to Myles Shaftel for his continuous driving force and tireless efforts in the construction of the eruv and Beverly Scarborough zt’l in organizing our fundraiser at the Tathams’ home in 2013.
This brief sketch of the evolution of the eruv culminated in its actual completion. As far as the future is concerned, we need to use the eruv as a community asset and enjoy its presence in celebration of Shabbat. We also need to plan the necessary infrastructure to continue, regularly inspect, maintain and expand the eruv. To Rabbis Millner and Love and all those who worked so diligently- on the project to date, Todah Rabba and Yasher Koach on reaching this milestone.
The Austin Eruv Committee invites you to join us in supporting the growth of our Jewish Community.
Donations may be mailed to Austin Eruv Committee 7300 Hart Drive Austin TX 78731