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May 24, 2011 2:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Court Hearing On Temporary Religious Boundary Now Set For June

May 24, 2011 2:55 PM

A court hearing that will determine whether or not a nonprofit group can temporarily install a symbolic Jewish religious boundary in western Southampton Town, one that includes most of Westhampton Beach Village and parts of Quogue Village and Westhampton, is set to begin in less than three weeks.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard D. Wexler, who is presiding over the case involving a proposal to establish the religious boundary, known as an eruv, agreed on May 18 to schedule a hearing on the preliminary injunction filed by the East End Eruv Association for June 14 and 15 in Central Islip, according to several attorneys involved with the case.

That ruling is expected to decide whether officials with the nonprofit can install a temporary boundary, one that would allow Orthodox Jews to push and carry objects to temple on the Sabbath, until a separate lawsuit seeking a permanent eruv winds its way through the courts.

The East End Eruv Association, whose leaders say is not affiliated with the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach even though that is the only house of worship that would benefit from the boundary, sued Westhampton Beach and Quogue villages, as well as Southampton Town, earlier this year after the three municipalities stated that they would not sign off on the boundary. Specifically, the group sued after they rejected its request to place wooden markers, known as “lechis,” onto utility poles in the two villages and town. The markers are needed to demarcate the boundary of the eruv.

Attorney Tiffany Scarlato, who is representing Southampton Town in the case, said that Judge Wexler had ordered Robert G. Sugarman, the lawyer representing the East End Eruv Association, to file separate claims against each community regarding the lawsuit. The reason for this request, explained Jelte deJong, the attorney representing Quogue Village, was to specify the association’s claims against each municipality.

“It would be way too complicated to have one compliant against three different municipalities when they are all different,” Ms. deJong said.

The plaintiffs have until the end of the week to file separate complaints, they said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Sugarman said he did not know how long it would take Judge Wexler to reach a ruling on a temporary eruv. When asked if he expected a ruling in his clients’ favor, Mr. Sugarman declined to speculate, but stated: “I think we have strong arguments going in.”

Attorney Brian Sokoloff, who will represent Westhampton Beach Village in the upcoming hearing, was working on litigation for another case and could not be reached for comment this week.

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