Rav Tzvi Fischer Leads Establishment of New Eruv in Portland

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portland-eruvPortland’s Jewish community became even more connected Friday, Nov. 20, precisely at 11:50 a.m. That’s when the Portland Eruv was officially completed.

“It enhances the spirit of communal space, of community consciousness, and of a unified Jewish community,” said Rav Tzvi Fischer, head of The Portland Kollel, who made establishment of an eruv a priority when he moved to Portland nearly four years ago.

“An eruv is community,” adds Michael Weingrad, director of the Judaic Studies Program at Portland State University, and an early supporter of the eruv. “And it’s also a sign of the community’s coming of age.”

“The eruv helps define Jewish identity and Jewish community,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brodkin of Congregation Kesser Israel, who also was active in the eruv effort. “It also adds to the joy and delight of the Shabbos.”

“It’s already changed the dynamic of the community,” said Iris Cox, who has been involved with the Southwest Portland Eruv Committee since its inception. “Last Shabbos, it was just amazing to see so many young children and so many young mothers who weren’t able to come to shul before.”

The current eruv encompasses the area from Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard to Southwest Shattuck Road, and from Southwest Multnomah Boulevard to Southwest Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. Fischer said a second section, extending the eruv to Southwest 65th Avenue and to Southwest Hamilton Street and Dosch Road-incorporating Cedar Sinai Park and Congregation Neveh Shalom-should be added within a month.

“The eruv is a sign of our community’s coming of age,” said Weingrad. “It shows that we are living in a city that is multicultural enough to meet the needs of our Orthodox members.”

He emphasized that the eruv will enhance Jewish life in Portland for everyone.

“Across the denominational spectrum, we realize that providing a richer, more engaged Jewish life for any one segment of the Jewish community benefits the entire community,” he said. “There will be Jews who don’t consider themselves obligated by laws concerning carrying on Shabbos, but who really appreciate living in a city that has a much more public and observant tradition in it.”

The process of establishing the eruv was lengthy and complicated. Experts on hilchos Eruvin visited Portland to help set the boundaries and work on other details. Cox, an attorney, drafted a resolution supporting the eruv that was approved by the Portland City Council in December 2008. Others worked on details with the Portland City Attorney’s office, and with Portland General Electric, whose power poles form an integral part of the eruv .

“We’ve had support from across the community,” said Rav Fischer, mentioning, among others, Rabbi Joey Wolf of Havurah Shalom, Rabbis Daniel Isaak, Bradley Greenstein and Joshua Stampfer, as well as Cantor Linda Shivers from Congregation Neveh Shalom; Rabbi Motti Wilhelm from Chabad, the late Rabbi Aryeh Hirschfield of Pnai Or, as well as individuals affiliated with the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and the Mittleman Jewish Community Center.

About 70 percent of the area within the eruv was already “enclosed” by natural or existing boundaries, such as hillsides, walls and fences, Rav Fischer said. To “enclose” the remainder, the Eruv Committee placed small poles 40 inches in height directly beneath power lines, forming virtual “doorways” or demarcations. A box of matzahs, representing “communal food,” is placed within the Eruv, and a 99-year $1 lease with the City of Portland ensures that the community has a legal right to the shared space.

Total cost of the eruv was about $3,000 for consultant fees and materials, Rav Fischer estimates. He anticipates it will cost about $2,000 a year to maintain it-since the eruv must be checked each week before Shabbat to make sure that all of the “connections” are in place.

The price, he said, is a bargain. “We may be competing for the cheapest eruv in the country,” he quipped. Costs of maintaining other eruvin can run to several hundred dollars each week, and one eruv in New Jersey cost nearly $500,000 to establish.

{Sura Rubenstein-Jewish Review/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Sounds exciting, but most be Kosher to!
    The broad spectrum of The Gedolim in America, who established the Yishuv here was against making Eruvin in (Large) Cities. That includes Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Ahron Kotler, The Satmer Rebbe, Rav Moshe Bick, The Blushever Rebbe, Rav J. B. Soloveitchik, The Bobover Rebbe, The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Gedalya Schorr, The Pupa Rebbe, Rav Yonosson Shteif, Rav A. Pam, Rav Avigdor Miller, Rav Elya Svei, The Tenka Rov, The Mattersdofer Rov, Rav A. Soloveitchik, Rav E. Ushri, Rav Katzin, Rav Shmuel Birenbaum, and many more Zichronum Livrochah, where all against this each in their own respect for various reasons – to long to write. See the Mishna Berurah to, so if thats who educated us & we follow their footsteps, & thoose of their Talmidim HaRabanim Shlit”a, we most inspect in their Seforim & ask their Talmidim if this is according to their Pisak.

  2. To # 3


    What are you talking about?
    What is disturbing you?

    1.) The total population of all of Portland Oregon is less than 600,000 people.
    2.) The article states that Poskim of Hilchos Eiruvin visited the city, and they gave their approval.
    3.) Do you know anything about the Jewish community of Portland?

    Everyone should be happy and delighted with the creation of such an Eiruv

  3. Kosher?
    What do you know about Portland? How many people live on that side of the river? what river splits the city? Do you know that the Eruv is inclosed by WALLS?

  4. Is there a difference between a full city eruv and a section of the city of eruv, especially if that section of the city is quieter? Not sure if it’s relevant here, but just guessing why many big cities have kosher eruvin.

  5. Who are “the experts”?
    Tzuras Hapesach or walls?
    According to Rav Moshe ZT”L it is not enough to put “lechi’s” on the electric poles, beneath the elctric wires, as the “koreh” most also be Liseim Eruvin.
    Look in Igros Moshe & you will see that their is no inyan to make an Eruv for michalilay Shabbos bifarhessyah – on all issurim of Shabbos too R”L.

  6. #11 – using the words “those rabbonim” & “a meschta” can put you in to the geder of “may ahany lei Rabbonon” chas viSholom.
    Secondly, “The Rabbonim” in their Respect did make it not kosher. About Mesechtas Eruvin that you seem to have trouble with (did you learn it already?), it noteworthy to be mifarsem, that The Vishnither Rebbe Shlit”a -Miziknei Hadmorim, whenever he visits Williamsburgh or Boro Park for Shabbos, He allways makes a point to speek about Shmiras Shabbos. On His recent visit to Brooklyn He said “We see that the Chachomim made a extra Misechta on the topic of Eruvin itself,showing the stringity of this topic,I am talking to all thoose who adhere to me and want to do what is proper”(not to carry).

  7. To #3

    Most of the Gedolim you claim started the Yishuv here didn’t come until the after the war or at the earliest in the 1930’s. Gedolim like the Sherpser Rav established a lower east side eruv in the early 1900’s.

  8. “those Rabonim” is in contrast to the Rabbonim that disagree and hold you should make eiruvin in cities.
    I have no idea what the viznitzer Rebbe story has with my point. My point is that there is a machlokes of what should be done, not if it is kosher when done properly.

  9. Kosher, the Satmer Rebbe, Bobover Rebbe, Pupa Rebbe, Rav Yonosson Shteif and Rav Avigdor Miller were not aginst eruvin. Rav Moshe zt”l was not against an eruv for a city such as Portland. It would be no diffrent than Detriot where Rav Moshe allowed an eruv.

  10. Shabbos Kodesh, show me where Rav Moshe zt”l wrote that a koreh needs to be leshem eruvin. Rav Moshe did say in Queens that it’s a good thing to estbalish an eruv.

  11. I am amazed at all the fuss on this website about the Eruv in Portland.

    What is more significant than which Rabbi’s writings you follow, or which detail makes such an effort “perfect” with halakhah, is that the entire community cooperated in it’s inception and implementation.

    Those of you from far away might not realize, but the Rabbis who are mentioned as supporting the new eruv, besides our modern Orthodox and Chabad leaders include local Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Renewal Rabbis. You can be sure that the leaders of the liberal communities had no hew and cry from their congregations for an eruv, but the true blessing of this eruv, and by extension of our community, is that we find ways to get along and support each other’s diverse paths towards Hashem.

    If only such cooperation and respect could be a given in the larger Jewish world, and in Israel, perhaps we could move closer to a time for Mashiach.


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