Prof. Mandler
Prof. MandlerHebrew U. website

A Jerusalem professor of chemistry was arrested and released on bail after he was caught red-handed cutting an eruv that surrounds a Jerusalem neighborhood, according to reports in the hareidi religious daily HaMevaser and, which identified the professor as Hebrew University’s Danny Mandler who resides in the Kiryat HaYovel neighborhood.

According to the reports, religious Jews had been conducting a stakeout in order to find the people who have been vandalizing the Jerusalem eruv – a boundary marker which delineates the area in which religious Jerusalemites may carry things during the Sabbath. According to Jewish Law, a Jew may not carry anything in his hands or pockets in the public domain on the Sabbath unless the area is closed off by a marker called an eruv.

The religious men apprehended the secularists as they cut the eruv in the capital's Kiryat Hayovel area. Professor Mandler is “a leading opponent of the eruv and a member of the committee of rabbis and secularists that have been meeting in the hope of using dialogue as a means to resolve the controversy.”

While the Jerusalem municipality provides an eruv around the entire city, some religious groups do not rely on it and prefer to erect their own eruv in local neighborhoods. The Mehadrin Eruv organization erects such local eruvs and claims to have authorizations to do so. The secularists claim that the boundry markers are being erected without authorization, and that the municipality has not acted to remove them.

The HaMevaser report, which is based on a conversation with Rav Dovid Eisenstein, is quoted on Yeshiva World News. “As a result of repeated incidents in which the eruv was sabotaged by secularists in recent months, Rabbi Yehoshua Neuwirth turned to rabbis involved with the Mehadrin Eruv in the Land of Israel organization, Rabbi Dovid Eisenstein and Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Ruchman, offering them to remain in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood for the Sabbath in the hope of apprehending the culprits."

Afte the rabbis arrived, they saw two people approaching the eruv, and one of them cut it with a knife. They apprehended him and said they were "shocked" when they realized he was university chemistry professor Mandler.

Police arrived, immediately arrested Mandler and an accomplice but then ordered rabbis Eisenstein and Ruchman to accompany them to the police station to give their version of the events. Police insisted that they get into the police car despite the day being the Sabbath, when riding is prohibited by Jewish law.

The report quotes an eyewitness: “The rabbis explained this was not possible, at which time police began hitting them and using unjustifiable force, calling for backup units. The reinforcements came and a scuffle ensued as young men [who accompanied the rabbis] tried to defend the rabbis against what they describe as police brutality.”

The rabbis were arrested and taken to the police Russian Compound detention center. They were asked to sign papers, also a violation of the Sabbath, but refused to do so until the end of the Sabbath Saturday evening, at which time they signed the papers and were released without bail.

“The professor and his accomplice were released on bail and ordered to distance themselves from the eruv for 30 days.”

Gilo Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Schlesinger explained that efforts have been made for the past months to enter into dialogue with secularists opposed to the eruv, “but there was no one to talk to."  He added that Rabbi Avraham Moshe Katzenelbogen, who is responsible for the eruv as a member of the Jerusalem Religious Council, recently took community center leaders on a tour of the eruv, showing them it was not in the way and did not pose an obstacle to anyone. A number of hours later, activists again tried to destroy it.

Immediately after the Sabbath, hareidi religious city councilmen reportedly turned to Mayor Nir Barkat, saying that while they had halted work on new eruvs to continue dialogue in the hope of finding a solution, the secularists are not true to their word and continue their attacks.

Barkat responded with concern, promising to convene the eruv committee Sunday in urgent session, condemning the attack and questioning the actions of the secularists at a time when dialogue is ongoing.