This item appears in the Jewish Telegraph August 12 2016
Eruv plan ‘damaging interfaith relations’
THE proposed Hale eruv will destroy strong interfaith links within the area, claims the son of the man who was renowned for building bridges between local Jewry and other communities. Mark Guterman, son of Henry Guterman, who received an MBE for his interfaith work, told the Jewish Telegraph of his “sadness” at the damage he believed is being caused to interfaith relations by the plans.
Behind the project are Rabbi Joel Portnoy and the South Manchester Eruv Committee.
An electronic petition was started by campaigners from South Trafford Against The Eruv, but was disabled by site administrators after “inappropriate content” was posted, despite reaching more than 400 signatures.
Mr Guterman, 55, said: “The arrogant ‘we don’t care as long as we get what we want’ attitude by unnamed funders of the project is ruining all the work my late father did for the community.
“These plans have caused hate-filled outbursts and are hijacking the proposals — which the eruv trust were warned about when they first announced plans in 2014 by myself and a colleague at meetings both publicly and privately.
“I’m not against the concept of an eruv, but I am against the trouble and divisiveness it is causing in this area.” The Hale-born property developer asked: “Why should we impose, and be seen to try and take over the area?”
The route of the proposed eruv, which will see the erection of 95 steel poles attached by a wire, encompasses roads in Altrincham, Timperley, Hale and Hale Barns, as well as sites on Green Belt land, the South Hale Conservation Area and the Hale Station Conservation Area.
Mr Guterman continued: “I grew up in Hale when there wasn’t a synagogue and there was a great community spirit between all types of people.
“It is wrong for these people who preach a message of religious peace to appear to not care about their neighbours.
“They are pulling apart all of the interfaith work that my father, who created countless interfaith groups, and many others, have done over many years to bring everyone together.
“It is fair to say that 90 per cent of the Jewish people that I have spoken to are against this, but they are afraid to lift their heads above the parapet.
“It was stated at the public meeting by the rabbi that it would only affect between 10-20 families, at best. I call upon the funders to show us who they are and listen to what is being said by the vocal majority.”
Mr Guterman continued: “I am convinced that this will pass the planning stages, initially or by appeal, but the damage it will do is being ignored by the funders who are ploughing on regardless.
“The petition which was taken down had been taken over by antisemites — which the eruv committee were warned about.
“Building a synagogue, mosque or church on your own land is fine — but when you encroach on your neighbours who don’t want it then problems will occur.”