A Fine Line: Is Religious Real Estate Kosher?

Stefanos Chen
Daniel Kraus
Daniel Kraus

For Daniel Kraus, an Orthodox Jewish renter in Midtown Manhattan, a downed utility pole could put the kibosh on all his weekend plans – but not for the reasons you might think.

Kraus (pictured at left with his family) was caught in "a flutter of email" last Friday, when it was discovered that a pole marking part of his community's ritual boundary, known as an eruv, was damaged.

The purpose of an eruv -- a series of nearly invisible wires strung high above street level on utility poles and lampposts -- is to create a symbolic home in which observant Jews are allowed to perform some tasks that are otherwise prohibited on Shabbat, the time between sundown Friday and Saturday evening. Chief among these privileges: carrying items (like walking canes and keys) and moving objects (like baby strollers and wheelchairs).