The concept of establishing the Sephardic Brooklyn Community Erub goes back to Hakham Matloub Abadi, zs”l, who advocated and worked for it in the 1950s and 1960s. It was given a big push forward by the illustrious Torah Sage Rishon Lesion Hakham Obadia Yosef, shlita, who often prodded the Brooklyn rabbis to establish it and last year wrote a definitive Teshubah (responsa) on erubin for Sepharadim in large modern cities. In 1998, Chief Rabbi Saul J. Kassin, shlita, made a determined decision, with unanimous support from the Sephardic Rabbinical Council, to see the project to its completion. Hakham Shaul Kassin and the Sephardic Rabbinical Council consulted with the great Sephardic chief rabbis in Israel as been customary for Sephardic diaspora communities seeking guidance on major Halakhic issues as well as with the top experts in the field of erubin. Hakham Shaul Kassin, along with Rabbi Ronald Barry, shlita who arranged and coordinated the actual work, supervised the project every step of the way to its completion today.
Erub means “mixing,” and in this case refers to the halakhic legal construct of mixing together public and private domains to permit carrying on Shabbat within the larger joined area. Pushing, handing to, throwing and rolling are included in carrying. Without an erub such activities are forbidden to be transacted from a private to public domain, from a public to private domain, from one private to another private domain and more than four amot (7 feet) within a public domain.
Only those items that are permitted to be carried within a private domain are permitted to be carried within the erub. The main purpose of establishing the erub was so that one may carry within it house keys, handkerchief, tissues, eyeglasses, talit, siddur and other Torah books, food-items, other permitted items needed for Shabbat, push a wheelchair, and wheel a baby carriage.
Muqseh items remain muqseh. Thus, money, wallets, purses, pocketbooks, electrical appliances, writing implements, umbrellas, gardening and building tools, business and car keys, outgoing mail, cell phones, PDAs, etc., etc. cannot be carried. One should be stringent not to ride a bicycle, as stated by Hakham Obadia Yosef in Livyat Hen (#107).
No prohibited category of melakha on Shabbat besides carrying is permitted by the erub. Outdoor activities that violate the spirit of Shabbat remain prohibited, such as certain adult sports activities.
It is advisable for every family to register with our Website (www.erub.org) to receive a weekly email, or call the Erub Hotline (718-375-ERUB) every Friday afternoon (or ereb Yom Tob when relevant) or check with someone who already checked to ascertain that the erub is operational. When carrying, be careful to remain within erub borders (see official erub map).
As the late Chief Rabbi and Av Bet Din of Jerusalem Rabbi Shalom Messas zs”l recently wrote to Rabbi Saul J. Kassin, in the first of many letters and expressions of support and commendation received for this project from chief rabbis in Israel: “I was very happy to hear... that you were able to fulfill the great misvah of establishing an erub in Brooklyn to save a congregation of Israel from the transgression of carrying on Shabbat without an erub. This misvah of benefiting the public can protect you and the entire holy congregation. Now they will be able to stroll outdoors on the holy Sabbath day with great joy...” We say AMEN and thank HASHEM for all His Blessings.