Church and state and erecting convenient boundaries

As an evangelical Christian, I can appreciate the legal pretense of an Orthodox Jewish eruv.

I had never heard of such a thing until reading Michael Chabon’s brilliant alternate-history detective novel The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. Yet it turns out that I’d spent most of the 1990s living within the sprawling Lower Merion eruv, and much of the next decade commuting into and out of and through the huge eruvin of Center City and University City. (The blue line on the map in this post denotes Philly’s Center City eruv.)

Here’s a helpful description of an eruv from the Jewish Press last month:

Jewish law prohibits carrying an object from a private domain to a public domain (or vice versa) or within a public domain on the Sabbath. … The creation of an eruv establishes, where possible, an extended private domain in which such carrying is permissible.

The rules regarding “carrying” between “domains” on the Sabbath are complicated, but deadly serious. Those rules are so extensive that it would be easy to violate them unwittingly or unintentionally. They also forbid some things that would seem necessary for anyone traveling to or from services on the Sabbath. Say you have severe asthma or extreme allergies and need to carry an inhaler or an EpiPen with you at all times. The law forbids you to carry such things from one domain (your home) to another (the street leading to your local synagogue) on the Sabbath. An eruv technically encompasses the entire area within a single domain, turning whole neigborhoods or cities into one “courtyard,” thus permitting carrying within the eruv without violating the law.

The idea shows an enormous, immersive respect for biblical law while simultaneously showing an enthusiastic willingness to elude that same law through ingeniously creative means. In a sense, the elaborate nature of the law-evading construct becomes an expression of reverence for the very law it evades. Technically, the law forbids you from carrying from point A to point B. The eruv creates a legal fiction whereby technically you can. The lawyerliness of the latter technicality pays tribute to the deep sincerity of the former.

In Chabon’s novel, the community’s dependence on the eruv and its keepers enables crafty, crooked men to wield power over others by making them the arbiters of who is or is not within the bounds of the law. They become the gatekeepers of others’ righteousness.

Like I said, this all seems terribly familiar to those of us who have lived within the subculture of white evangelicalism. So much so that it’s tempting to abandon the original point of this post and just go galloping off into exploring the eruv as a metaphor for white evangelicalism in America.

But here’s the key thing: The boundaries of an eruv have to be physical, tangible and real. They’re nearly invisible, even if you know where to look and you know what you’re looking for. Walk along Poplar Street in Philadelphia and look very carefully and you may spot the boundaries of the blue line on the map here — a length of wire, a bit of thin pipe affixed to a utility pole. The lines these boundaries draw enclose a fictive space, but the lines themselves must be real.

There are, of course, many, many rules about the rules that allow one to abide by the rules. (Familiar, all too familiar.)

Ari Kohen draws our attention to a battle over a proposed eruv in Westhampton Village, New York:

The eruv would consist of about 60 10-to-15-foot-long, five-eighths-of-an-inch-wide PVC strips affixed to utility poles, and painted to blend in with them. They would be difficult to see, and would be shorter than the poles themselves.

That’s how these things work. If you don’t know it’s there, you’d never know it was there. You can’t see it, and unless you’re an Orthodox Jew it doesn’t affect your life at all in any way.

And yet many of the residents of Westhampton Village — including the mayor — want to prevent the Orthodox community from constructing its eruv. They offer two reasons for this. The first is an attempt at a principled-sounding argument. The second is an accidental admission of simple discrimination (which is why Kohen’s post is titled, “Oops, You Said the Quiet Part Out Loud“).

Let’s address the supposedly principled argument first. Out in the Hamptons, they’re arguing that an eruv somehow constitutes an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment:

In 2012, the Quogue board of trustees ruled that constructing an eruv “would very likely constitute a violation of the establishment clause” of the Constitution, and denied the application. Southhampton and Westhampton Village have not made a formal ruling, but Mr. Teller, the mayor, said he agreed with that reasoning.

“It’s about the separation of church and state,” he said.

That’s ridiculous. It ignores the existence of eruvin in communities all over the United States, none of which have been challenged, let alone ruled against, as any sort of religious establishment. Because they are not any sort of religious establishment — the state is not involved, and they do not affect anyone except the members of the Orthodox community. They are not noticed by anyone except the members of the Orthodox community.

If the city were being asked to fund the construction of the eruv, that would be a violation of the Establishment Clause. If the existence of the eruv meant that suddenly every resident had to begin abiding by the Orthodox Jewish restrictions against carrying on the Sabbath, then that would clearly be unconstitutional. But the town is not being asked to pay for any of this, only to allow its existence. And none of the non-Orthodox residents of the town will be asked or required even to acknowledge its presence.

So what’s really behind the opposition to the Westhampton Village eruv? The ugly truth seems to be that because it would make life easier for Orthodox Jewish residents, it might attract Orthodox Jewish residents, and the people of Westhampton Village don’t want those kind of people around. The law might not allow Westhampton to prohibit Orthodox Jews from building a synagogue, but perhaps the law can be manipulated to prevent them from being able to get to that synagogue. And if so maybe they’ll all just go away.

It’s discrimination, plain and simple. It’s no different from the anti-Islamic bigotry opposing the “Ground-Zero mosque” (which was neither a mosque, nor very near Ground Zero) or opposing the mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

That would be a harsh accusation to level against Mayor Teller and his constituents, but they’ve already confessed to it. As Kohen said, they unintentionally “said the quiet part out loud”:

Estelle Lubliner, another Jewish member of the anti-eruv group, said she feared that the eruv “will make more Orthodox people come in, and it’s not right to the history of these towns.”

“Why are they forcing the community to change?” she added.

…  [M]any in Westhampton Village — a diverse mix of Catholics, Protestants and Jews — say they fear the prospect of more Orthodox Jews moving in if the eruv is constructed. The mayor, Conrad Teller, estimated that perhaps 90 to 95 percent of Westhampton Village is now against it. “It’s divisive,” he said. “I believe they think somebody’s trying to push something down their throats.”

Storekeepers on Main Street have voiced practical concerns, because Orthodox Jews traditionally don’t spend money on the Sabbath. “Retail is hard enough as it is,” said Anick Darbellay, sitting in her dress shop on Friday. “I don’t want to have to shut down on Saturdays. Have you been to the Five Towns?” she asked, referring to an Orthodox Jewish enclave in Nassau County. “That’s what happened there.”

That’s just straight-up We Don’t Want You Here. It’s explicit bigotry, explicitly stated.

Kohen comments:

It’s absolutely bizarre — and very sad — that, rather than attempting to learn something about those whose beliefs are different, the majority population immediately acted like there was some sort of terrible threat to their country and their way of life.

Yep, the majority population perceives that a minority constitutes “some sort of terrible threat to their country and their way of life,” and so they impose legal restrictions against that minority, all the while trumping up disingenuous arguments that such restrictions against the freedom of the minority are necessary to protect the “religious liberty” of the majority. The very existence of the minority, the majority says, is “divisive.”

The eruv is a legal fiction that allows Orthodox Jews to carry on the Sabbath. The “religious liberty” argument of the privileged majority is a legal fiction that allows them to impose their will on others while pretending they’re making a principled stand for freedom.

The former is benign and unobtrusive. The latter is not.



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  • Abigail Nussbaum

    As an Israeli Jew, it’s hard for me to feel too much opprobrium at people who are distressed at the possibility that their community might become strongly Orthodox.  The problem with preaching tolerance in this case is that the Orthodox are rarely tolerant themselves.  As has already been pointed out in this thread, in certain, mixed communities in Israel, they’ve gone so far as to try to limit the ability of women – Orthodox and secular alike – to move freely in the public streets.  In communities with large Orthodox communities, businesses are often pressured to close on Saturdays, and forget about finding public transport on the weekends anywhere outside of Haifa (one of the few major cities in Israel with a large Arab community). 

    Now, that’s in Israel, where for political reasons religious fanaticism has enjoyed far too much indulgence for far too long.  Possibly Orthodox Jews in the US, or in this particular town, are less ambitious.  But that’s not what I’ve been hearing coming out of Brooklyn, where there have also been attempts to limit women’s freedom of movement and public transport on the Sabbath, and apparently the community discussed here has already seen its neighboring businesses forced to shut down on Saturdays.  There’s a difference between asking for accommodation for your religious beliefs (for example, specific hours during which the swimming pool is reserved for women, which we also have in Israel), and imposing those beliefs on everyone around you whether they want them or not.  In my experience, Orthodox Jews are usually after the latter.

  • aunursa

    In both the UK and Seattle facilities, the pools have mostly integrated sessions.

    I don’t think that should matter with respect to the legality of a public facility offering women-only sessions.  Would it be okay if a facility offered weekly Muslim-only or Christian-only sessions — if the other 95% of the time it did not discriminate on the basis of religion?

  • My problem with this idea of women-only swimming sessions is that I’m wondering who’s going to act as the gender police and how they’re going to go about it.  Now, if people are going to be recognized as women based on whatever their driver’s license or other state-issued ID says, will the religious folks who want women-only sessions be okay with the fact that there might be some trans women showing up, or will somebody try to insist that only people who were assigned female gender at birth qualify as female?  I can see problems occurring either way.

  • MaryKaye

    I swim regularly at one of the Seattle pools–not one that will be offering women-only times, though the next one north will.  Maybe I am not in the target age group, but I personally have not seen harassment in this setting.  I don’t think there would be much reason to go women-only unless you were either culturally prohibited from swimming with men, or had reasons of personal history to feel unsafe in a mixed environment.

    It might seem fairer to also offer men-only but apparently there is no demand.  (The more I think about why there is no demand, the ickier it gets, because if your religion prohibits women swimming with men it should *really* prohibit men swimming with women.  But I don’t get to rewrite other peoples’ religions.)

    As for the argument that one doesn’t want a disliked religious group moving in–that’s what civil rights are *for*.  You don’t need a civil liberties movement to protect the rights of the popular and inoffensive.  It’s precisely cases where the endangered party is unpopular and offensive that test your commitment to civil liberties.  That’s why the ACLU defends the KKK.  And–what is the alternative?  Forcing someone out of your community does not make them stop existing.  It just makes their lives worse.  (And very possibly hardens their hearts, because now their feelings of persecution are validated.)

  • Lunch Meat

    Isn’t it fairly common for public pools to offer age-restricted sessions?

    Your example really doesn’t work. In the first place, it would be impossible to offer a session for every religion, because there are two many of them. It’s fairly easy to offer two 2-hour sessions for men and two for women every week. In the second place, we already have gender-restricted facilities all over the place–locker rooms, public restrooms. We do it because a lot of people are more comfortable in gender-segregated places, and it makes sense that a pool would be a place where that would be true. There’s no reason to offer facilities segregated on the basis of religion, race, or anything else.

  • Madhabmatics

    Okay, two things

    1) I attended a former’s women’s university and even there I knew a ton of women that would not use the gym because of men leering at them and sexual harassment. It’s great that Seattle doesn’t have that problem or whatever, but it’s definitely a problem in a lot of places. None of the women that complained to me about that were Muslim, I don’t think that women would only want to go to Curve’s because of religious oppression. I mean I guess Curves could be made up solely of Jewish and Muslim women, but many of the white people I know go there too, so?

    We are only like ten years away from when Rush Limbaugh wrote a book with a chapter about how banning a dude for oggling women and masturbating in the locker room was a feminist plot, here.

    2) The same people that interpret things in Islam as “Women can’t swim with men” also believe “Men can’t swim with women.” The fact that people ignore that is definitely a symbol of patriarchy, but you aren’t going to find Fatwa’s that say “yo it’s totally okay for a man to swim with women” from the same people that condemn it the other way around.

  • aunursa

    Age restrictions are appropriate given that children’s swimming sessions are pretty much incompatible with adult swimming sessions.

    it would be impossible to offer a session for every religion, because there are two many of them

    In communities where only one religion were to request segregated sessions, it would be easy to accomodate — but it would still violate the Constitution.

    we already have gender-restricted facilities all over the place–locker rooms, public restrooms. We do it because a lot of people are more comfortable in gender-segregated places

    Those involve nudity.  Are there women’s only sessions at public beaches in the United States?

  •  It’s funny how many people are trying to shove things down conservatives’ throats! I think that is their most consistent metaphor.

  • Jenny Islander

    Not so much “allowed” as “most places don’t kvetch if they do.”  Anchorage has/had (this may have changed) forcibly removed all roadside memorials and replaced them with official signs that read “[NAME OF DECEASED]–DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE” or something similar.  The rationale: Roadside memorials may be distracting to drivers.

    Replacing “Flicker of non-sign-shaped object at edge of vision, it isn’t moving, I’m going too fast to look at it, ignore,” with “Hey, wait, that’s a sign, what’s it saying, do I need to be warned about something?” *cranes neck* seems counterintuitive to me.

    My town has never prosecuted or removed roadside memorials and the presence of such a memorial has yet to cause an accident.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Define ‘self-imposed legal fiction’ in a way that actually applies to this situation. Because religious requirements? Not self-imposed. Possibly stupid–in fact I sincerely doubt there is a single religion that requires anything of its membership where absolutely none of the requirements are stupid–though I do not care to argue whether this particular requirement is stupid. Point is, it’s a requirement, and if they did not abide by it they would not be Orthodox Jews.

  • EllieMurasaki

    A better and more constitutional approach would be to turn away all men during the women-only session and turn away all women during the men-only session.

    Define your terms, recalling that trans people exist.

  • Jchrishall

    Actually, states and local governments are trying to figure out how to sympathetically reduce the number of these ad hoc memorials.  Some states/localities have had to physically remove them. 

  • > eruvim (sp.?)

    I forget whether eruv is a masculine-gendered or feminine-gendered noun, so I’m not sure if it’s eruvimor eruvot. I’m pretty sure it’s the former, though. As far as correct spelling goes, well, it’s a Hebrew word, so it’s a transliteration however you spell it, which to my mind means anything that sounds about right is equally correct. (ayruv is arguably superior.) But  eruv is conventional.

  •  Age restrictions are appropriate given that children’s swimming sessions
    are pretty much incompatible with adult swimming sessions.

    This will come as a surprise to the many mixed-age group swimming sessions I have seen. The pool may need to restrict access for swimming LESSONS, but that’s a competency issue and it is not only children who take swimming lessons.

    And anecdote time: Most of the age-restricted sessions I’ve seen are for over-65s, not children.

  • Carstonio

    No slight intended to trans folks. I want equality for them as well, and offhand I don’t know how that would impact the specific pool issue. I’m inclined to say that if someone is squicked out by a trans person, that shouldn’t be the trans person’s problem.

  • aunursa

    Sure, there are mixed age group sessions.  Perhaps I should have said family swimming may be incompatible with adult lap swimming.

  • SisterCoyote

    That would be awesome.

    (For the longest time, I was convinced that those ornamental stars you see on people’s doors were markers of a secret society. My dad eventually told me they were just decorations, but I tried to not-believe him for a few months anyway, because it was so much more interesting.)

  • Mark Z.

    Because then you have to carry your smartphone to know if you’re allowed to carry your smartphone.

  • aunursa

    If you’re an Orthodox Jew, you won’t use your smartphone during Shabbat.

  • Mark Z.

    That too.

  • LL

    Alrighty then. 

  • stardreamer42

     I don’t understand this argument. Are you seriously trying to claim that a piece of PVC pipe is the same kind of religious symbol as a cross or a prayer flag? It’s not a religious symbol at all! You find me a religion that prays to pieces of PVC pipe, and I’ll allow that you might have a point. Until then, not so much.

  •  …

    So… Religions that practice gender discimination do not deserve equal protection under the law, and practitioners of those religions should be forced to choose to either violate their faith, or move to ghettos where their religion won’t offend good decent christian secular egalitarian folk?

  • How fortunate I am that the things I don’t want in a neighbor are not related to their religion, and therefore it’s okay for me to try to use the force of law to send the message to people I don’t like that We Don’t Like Your Kind ‘Round Here.

  • AnonaMiss

    Yes, aunursa, I heartily agree that gender-segregated swimming sessions in public pools should not be happening. (Depending on how “public” the pool is, of course. The pool in the neighborhood where I grew up was in practice a public pool – they didn’t check to make sure you were allowed in – but it was owned by the homeowners’ association and so legally private. So I’d want to confirm that the pool in question was legally public, and not just de facto public, before passing judgment on their gender segregated swim.)

    The YMCA is a private organization and can do as it likes as long as it pays taxes.

    To clarify, I do think asking for an eruv is within the bounds of reasonable religious accommodation, and I think it would be in bad taste for the community to refuse. I just wanted to point out that there are reasons to be trepidatious about Orthodox Jews* moving in next door that have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.**

    * I will admit that I don’t know where the line is between ‘Orthodox’ and ‘Haredim’, so if what’s here being described as Orthodox doesn’t participate in gender segregation, my objection is withdrawn.

    ** I struggle with this. Wouldn’t it technically still be anti-Semitism? It’s definitely still religious prejudice. I mean, I’d argue it’s a “good” form of religious prejudice, but everyone thinks their own prejudices are good, right? Yeah, I know, we don’t have to tolerate intolerance, but what do you do when people demand and defend the right to be othered? It’s not like there aren’t Orthodox Jewish women. If a woman willingly participates in her religion’s gender segregation, and she says it’s her choice – well, many forms of participiation in the patriarchy are also the woman’s choice, but that doesn’t mean it’s not damaging. At the same time, if a person wants to dress in any way and experiences this as their preference, who am I to say that they’re wrong about their own experience? It’s a sticky situation.

  • aunursa

    Thank you for struggling with the question and your sincere answer.

    Although I can’t be sure, it appears (from information posted on the Seattle Parks & Recreation website and related sites) that all four of the Seattle pools that will offer women-only sessions are publicly-owned.

  • Ennid

    Some people have mentioned that they really *would* rather not have tons of Orthodox Jews in their community because of various problematic aspects of Orthodox society (especially in their treatment of women) and because Orthodox communities both in Israel and in the US have been moving towards greater discrimination against NON-orthodox people in or near their own communities, rather than just having a live-and-let-live attitude.

    This seems like a totally reasonable basis for not wanting some people to move in next to you, honestly. (I don’t share that basis; I find Orthodox Judaism so charming for totally superficial reasons that I’d probably put up with a lot to get to live near a community of Orthodox Jews. Same for the Amish.)  But that’s a totally separate matter from whether it’s just to permit people to put up harmless pieces of PVC pipe. We don’t have the right to put legal barriers in place to harass or hinder other people from moving in next to you, just because we’d rather they didn’t. That’s one of the beautiful things about America.

  • Gotta say I’m not terribly offended by the idea of women-only or men-only sessions at a pool, if there’s a demand.  I would hope that they wouldn’t be held during the busiest hours of the day, so that the fewest people would be inconvenienced. But then, I also saw no problem with our local pool having adult-only swimming, so that adults could get some serious lap time in without children splashing and playing all around them.

  • Stone_Monkey

    What this story reminds me of, a little, was another story I read last year – and I don’t have the link, but someone with better google-fu than I might be able to find it. It concerned a US city that was attempting to ban halal slaughter (and the products thereof iirc), ostensibly for the purposes of animal welfare. It was obviously and abundantly clear that the measure was primarily designed to discomfit any Muslims in the area by making it impossible for them to consume meat if they so wished.
    I believe it also fell flat as they were making very strenuous efforts to ensure that kosher meat was not included in the proposed law. I’m fairly sure more than one person took very great pleasure in pointing out to the city fathers that kosher meat is also halal and so their wonderfully “clever” measure would have had no effect whatsoever on the diet of the Muslims they’d hoped to encourage  to – to use Mitt Romney’s awesomely braindead phrase – self deport.

    There have also been attempts along these lines in Poland and Holland too. The EU gave them short shrift – another reason for me to despair of the proposals for my home nation leaving it, as I can totally see those Daily Mail reading sections of the UK public cheering the idea on.

    So yeah, another social engineering based attempt at non-violent ethnic cleansing.


    I struggle with this. Wouldn’t it technically still be anti-Semitism?

    My own answer to this, which is mine and not meant as any kind of general insistence that anyone else do or refrain from doing anything in particular, is that if I have standards of acceptable behavior and lots of Jews violate those standards and I judge those Jews poorly, that’s not anti-Semitism. If non-Jews violate those standards as well and I don’t judge those non-Jews equally poorly, that’s anti-Semitism.

    There’s some refining of that which is worth doing, involving the question of whether my standards are question-begging… e.g., if “acceptable behavior” requires going to church on Sundays. It’s tricky to state in the abstract with any precision the condition that violates, though, so I usually play it by ear.


    what do you do when people demand and defend the right to be othered?

    It depends. If we have the sort of relationship that entitles me to question or challenge their choices, I do so. If not, I don’t.

  • aunursa

    kosher meat is also halal and so their wonderfully “clever” measure would have had no effect whatsoever on the diet of the Muslims

    According to several Islamic sources, kosher meat is not halal.  It appears that many (but not all) Muslim authorities permit Muslims to eat kosher food if halal food is not available.

  • heckblazer

    With no further information that’s my suspicion as well, especially as a Southampton Jewish group opposed the eruv.  Specifically I suspect the fear is that the town could turn into another Kiryas Joel.   That’s a majority Hasidic village a few counties over that’s caused lots of friction with its neighbors due to its poverty, aggressive growth and tendency to vote as a bloc as directed by its rabbis.  This has lead to a good bit of litigation, the most notable being  Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet in which  the Supreme Court ruled that the village’s school district violated the establishment clause.  
    As for the eruv itself, it strikes me about as objectionable as a sign that says “Entering Chinatown” or one with a church and an arrow on it.

  • heckblazer

    Based on your link kosher meat wouldn’t be halal purely for political reasons and not anything inherent to kosher slaughter.  The stated reasoning for the fatwa is that Muslims should not eat kosher because they have a duty to boycott anyone who supports Zionism.

  • MaryKaye

    I don’t recognize the anti-halal lawsuit (which is not to say I disbelieve in it) but there was a very similar one in Hialeah Florida which was directed at Santerian animal sacrifice (but *not* halal or kosher butchers, nor animal experimentation, nor animal control euthanasia, nor….)  The US Supreme Court found against the city–the comment in the decision was “religious gerrymandering” because the law was so transparently slicing around  stuff “we” do to excise only stuff “they” do.   One of my favorite SC decisions.

  • aunursa

    No, several links indicate differences, especially kosher foods that are not halal (e.g. foods that contain gelatin or kosher wine), and the person who slaughters animals in accordance with kosher standards does not recite the name of God before each slaughter.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’ve seen it before, but can’t recall where either. If there’s no alternative to eating forbidden food, though, it’s not considered sinful. So not only was it discrimination, it was ineffectual, ignorant discrimination.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’ve seen it before, but can’t recall where either. If there’s no alternative to eating forbidden food, though, it’s not considered sinful. So not only was it discrimination, it was ineffectual, ignorant discrimination.

  • Madhabmatics

    Most often Muslims who don’t consider kosher meat halal do so because of differing standards amongst madhab. What meat is halal depends on what madhab and what scholars in that madhab you follow, which means that depending on where in the Muslim world you are from, you’ll have different halal standards. Shellfish and lobsters are considered automatically halal with no ritual or prayer needed in the Maliki school, but are considered Haram in the Hanafi school. One of the particular objections is whether or not you think that blessing every animal individually is necessary, or whether you can do collective blessings.

    Yes, this means that food prepared to halal standards for some Muslims doesn’t meet the standard for others.

    In any case, refusing to buy acceptable food because of (historically) recent politics is very much a minority opinion, and goes against one of the other basic ideas of eating halal: If there is a good chance the food is acceptable, but it might be, don’t try to find out.

  • heckblazer

    What, there’s more than one link?  D’oh!

    I wasn’t clear in that I was specifically talking about meat since halal slaughter was what brought this up.  From the links you’ve provided I’d say it still looks like the main objection to kosher meat is political; I’d be curious to see any pre-1948 fatwas.

  • Madhabmatics

    What’s especially interesting is that the Hanafi school is basically considered the least-demanding madhab, but the Maliki and Shaf’i are much freer about ocean-based foods than the Hanafi.

  • Mrs Grimble

    Why is the idea of a women-only swimming session bothering you? And why assume that the UK pool is specifically catering to Muslims? Its open to all women, and plenty of non-Muslim women like the idea. There’s a women-only pool on Hampstead Heath in London that’s been going for a century or more.

  • aunursa

    I suspect that American Muslims are more strict regarding the consumption of kosher food perhaps because Muslims have greater accessible to halal sources today than in previous decades.  Nevertheless I say this as a pro-Israel Jew: Whatever the reason that certain Muslim authorities do not consider kosher food halal is irrelevant.  I support the ability of Muslims to prepare food in accordance with halal standards without governmental interference.

  • aunursa

    Why is the idea of a women-only swimming session bothering you?

    Women’s only swimming sessions at private facilities or sponsored by private groups does not bother me.  Women’s only public sessions at public facilities may violate civil rights laws and/or the Constitution.  That does bother me. 

    And why assume that the UK pool is specifically catering to Muslims?

    I did not make that assumption.

  • Mrs Grimble

    Anursa, you did actually write “in order to accomodate the Muslim population”. Which sounds like you’re making that assumption.
    And I’m willing to be proved wrong but I’m pretty certain that every pool in the UK offers women-only sessions. My local pool certainly does.

  • Leum

    It’s my understanding that, in the absence of a kosher butcher’s shop, the local Orthodox community uses the halal butchers.

  • Lori


    How fortunate I am that the things I don’t want in a neighbor are not related to their religion   

    Yes, you are fortunate that you are never likely to have neighbors who want to force you to do things like consistently yield right of way on the sidewalk or prohibit you from using public transportation.

  • Lori


    I’d probably put up with a lot to get to live near a community of Orthodox Jews. Same for the Amish.)   

    I live near a fairly decent-sized community of Amish. They’re perfectly fine as neighbors, but once you get used to seeing them there’s nothing particularly charming about them. I don’t mean that they’re not nice. I mean that they’re just people. Some of them are nice. Some of them are not. The women and children tend to be very shy around outsiders so it’s unusual to interact with them all that much. The one thing I will say is that very small children in Amish clothing are never not cute.

  • Lori


    What’s especially interesting is that the Hanafi school is basically
    considered the least-demanding madhab, but the Maliki and Shaf’i are
    much freer about ocean-based foods than the Hanafi. 

    Is that geographical? Did the Maiki and Shaf’i madhabs originate in areas with greater access to the ocean than the Hanafi? (I guess it could also go the other way, with the Maliki & Shaf’i not bothering to regulate things their people didn’t really have access to.)

  • aunursa

    There is a difference between “serves only Muslims” and “in order to accomodate the Muslim population.”  The former is religious discrimination; the latter probably is not.

  • Madhabmatics


    I don’t know about Maliki, but my secret theory re: Shaf’i is that it’s because one of the schools founding principles is “If it’s a local custom that isn’t strictly anti-Islam or forbidden, allow it” – which may be convenient or horrible depending.