Traditionally Shabbat is a day of rest, where many forms of work are forbidden. One of these is carrying in a public space or transferring items from private to public space. Under this restriction, Jews would not be able to push a stroller to synagogue on Shabbat, have a picnic in a park in summer, or carry their hats or mittens if they got too warm in winter.
To help communities share the joy of Shabbat, the sages codified ways to create boundary lines known as an “Eruv” that create virtual walls around neighborhoods. By installing an Eruv, a community joins privately held land with streets and public areas used by the community, into a single unified zone within which carrying items on the Sabbath is permitted.
It is recommended to stay well within the boundaries of the Eruv as the precise boundary may fall on either side of the street.
The Ottawa Community Eruv is bounded on the north by the Ottawa river, and on all other sides by a 50.4-km-long wall made up of 213 doorposts, or lechoyayim, with connecting lintels. The eruv reaches from the Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre in the east to Andrew Haydon Park in the west, serving Jews in Gloucester, Vanier, Alta Vista, Nepean, Craig Henry, Centrepointe, Westboro, the city core, and places between. Please see the map for details.
When Rabbi Reuven Bulka came to Ottawa in 1967, he saw a need for a city-wide Eruv to encourage vibrant Jewish community life and growth. He consulted experts in Toronto, where Eruvin were already set up and in use. They graciously helped over several years to plan the Ottawa Eruv and oversaw the strict Halachic guidelines. Permissions were requested and granted by the (then) multiple municipalities involved. The Regional Transportation division and Public Works were also all involved. This process took a number of years and a lot of effort.
In 1975, the city-wide Eruv opening was announced and the Eruv Club was initiated to help maintain what was achieved with such great effort. From that time until very recently, Rabbi Bulka was the local rabbinic authority responsible for the Eruv. In the last number of years, he has delegated this to Rabbi Idan Scher of Congregation Machzikei Hadas.
If you have specific questions regarding Sabbath observance, please contact your community Rabbi.
The Eruv maintenance is supported through donations and annual memberships to the Eruv Club. please contact the office at Machzikei Hadas 613-521-9700 to participate.
Active link to come – Eruv Web page under construction.