I’ve done some interesting interviews over the years. There was my 1992 interview with blues musician Roy Book Binder in his RV at the Walt Whitman Service Area along the New Jersey Turnpike. I’ve been backstage with ZZ Top, the Rolling Stones, and a slew of lesser known musicians. And, my interviews over the years with wool pullers inside the Pittsburgh Wool Company plant are among the more memorable moments in my career.
Last year I did my first ride-along with a rabbi inspecting an eruv in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. I was fortunate enough last week to have my second eruv inspection ride-along.
four six eruvim in Atlanta and the city’s inner suburbs. All were established in the last two decades of the twentieth century by Orthodox Jewish congregations seeking to expand membership and to enhance the social lives of existing members in their communities.
Eruvim are symbolic enclosures that create personal domains in public spaces to enable Jews to carry things outside the home during the weekly Sabbath. I documented several in the Washington suburbs before relocating to Atlanta earlier this year.
The first Atlanta eruv I began researching was the Virginia-Highland eruv. I then contacted the managers for the Atlanta Eruv, Inc. eruv which wraps around the Toco Hills area just north of Emory University. After interviewing the eruv‘s manager I spent a day with eruv inspector Ariel Asa as he performed his weekly checks.
Rabbi Asa suggested that we meet at a Quik Trip gas station north of Emory University. We met on a sunny Thursday morning. The rabbi arrived at the Quik Trip wearing a baseball cap, orange vest, sweatpants, and traditional tzitzit: tassles worn by observant Jews.
We left in his car and for the next three and a half hours we traveled around the eruv perimeter. Most of the inspection was a windshield survey but part of it requires hiking through the woods on Emory University’s campus.
Just days before we went out, massive storms tore through Atlanta downing trees and utility lines. Several segments of the eruv boundary were damaged and one power pole had been replaced in the storms’ aftermath. This video clip has scenes from Rabbi Asa’s survey the first week in April.
Update (July 23, 2011): Read more about the Atlanta eruv and others in DeKalb County in this Summer 2011 DeKalb History Center newsletter.
© 2011 David S. Rotenstein