Los Angeles is a city infamous for many things -- traffic, sprawling masses, Hollywood -- but woven in and among its streets is something unexpected.
There’s a religious, symbolic wall erected for the Jewish community that snakes around the city, forming a huge uninterrupted border. Most people in LA don’t even know it’s there.
Check out the video to see the map -- it’s staggering to see its size. In fact, it’s the biggest wall of its kind in the world.
This religious border is called an eruv. Observant Jewish communities use eruvs to be capable of adhering to the rules of the Sabbath, or Shabbat/Shabbos. These structures still exist today.
Observant Jews have to stop all work and travel during Shabbat, and there’s a long list of things they can’t do in that 24-hour period.
The list is extensive, but that’s where the eruv comes in. Everything Jews are prohibited from doing on Shabbat, they’re allowed to do as long as they’re inside the borders of the eruv. It’s both convenient and a way to foster and encourage a sense of community.
The video explains how the border is constructed and what various elements make it up. It also illustrates how the structure is essentially “hidden in plain sight."
We spoke to Howard Witkin, the man who built Los Angeles' eruv. He elaborated on why he started the eruv and how he completed the barrier, which was a behemoth task seven years in the making.
Not only is the city of LA aware of the eruv, various departments work closely with Witkin and the Eruv Association to make sure municipal expansion and projects don’t interfere with the borders.
In a city that is often criticized for being too sprawling, too crowded, too insular, and for lacking a sense of community, it’s a remarkable thing that LA's Jewish community has managed to quietly construct a symbolic wall that creates a community within a larger community within one of the world's most bustling cities.
Here's something else you can do while in Los Angeles ... go hiking with wolves.