An eruv is a bounded space within which Jews who adhere to traditional religious law can
"carry" objects in public spaces on the Sabbath, something they are normally prohibited
from doing. "Carrying" in this context includes everything from toting bags to
pushing strollers and wheelchairs to wearing knapsacks. An eruv therefore is of
great benefit to families with small children, the elderly, and the disabled.
The North Charles Community Eruv includes most of Cambridge and roughly half of Somerville.
Its boundary is a real physical entity, albeit invisible to all but the trained eye.
It consists of existing walls, embankments, trees, telephone wires,
slightly modified telephone poles and lampposts, and short lengths of plastic twine.
The box of matza for the eruv is kept at Harvard Hillel.
As a means of establishing and supporting the eruv, the North Charles Community Eruv, Inc.
was incorporated in 1992. NCCE is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing,
building and maintaining the boundary of the North Charles Community Eruv.
Before construction began, the NCCE received permission from the owners of the components
of the boundary, including the cities of Cambridge and Somerville, the MDC, several
utilities, and two railroads. The permitting process included submitting detailed maps,
purchasing insurance, and participating in public hearings before the Cambridge City
Council and Somerville Board of Aldermen.