Every Thursday and Friday, Rabbi Moshe Tauber dutifully travels to Manhattan from his home in Monsey, N.Y. The 43-year-old rabbi and father of 12 usually arrives by 5:30 a.m. He drives as far as 25 miles in the city, his eyes focused well above street level. That’s because he sees what nobody else does.
Rabbi Tauber’s job is to keep tabs on the Manhattan eruv, a precisely designated zone that zigzags from 126th Street in Harlem to the bottom of the island and from the Upper East Side to the Lower East Side. Its perimeter is marked by heavy-duty fishing line strung almost invisibly on city light poles 18 feet high, though structural portions of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, the West Side Highway and the Brooklyn Bridge also mark the boundaries.
For many of New York’s observant Jews, their enjoyment of the Sabbath depends on Rabbi Tauber. During Shabbos, which runs from Friday sundown to Saturday night, religious Jews aren’t permitted to carry objects outside the home, as that would constitute work. No bottles of wine and casseroles when visiting friends, not even prayer books and tallit bags. The eruv becomes a lifeline for Orthodox families to be out and about on the holiest day of the week.
Under cover of the eruv, which symbolically extends one’s residence into the public domain, carrying and pushing are kosher.