Using A Stroller On Shabbat

Every major Orthodox rabbi but one has ruled that you can’t use a stroller on Yom Kippur because the eruv is down due to the 405 construction.

Here’s the normative approach:

Young Israel of Century City

Guidelines For When the Eruv is Down

Prepared by Rabbi Elazar Muskin & Rabbi Zev Goldberg

The Los Angeles community is blessed with an exceptional Eruv that is used by the entire community throughout the year. However, because of ongoing construction on the 405, the Eruv Committee has informed us that the Eruv will not be operational on Yom Kippur. Please be advised of the following guidelines:

– You are not allowed to carry your High Holiday pass on Yom Kippur. Guards will have complete lists for all locations. If your name is on the list you will be allowed to enter the designated Minyan location.

– If you live in a home with a fully enclosed yard (even if there is a door), you may carry in the yard.

– You may not carry a key on Shabbat/Yom Kippur without an Eruv. It is permissible to fashion a belt that uses the key as part of the buckle. However, the key must serve a function as part of the belt. Attaching the key to the belt as an ornament is not acceptable. It is not permissible to simply attach a key to a necklace.

– If you need eyeglasses/contact lenses to help with your vision, you are permitted to wear the eyeglasses/contact lenses when walking in a public domain on Shabbat.

– You are not permitted to push a stroller on Shabbat/ Yom Kippur if there is no Eruv. This applies even if the child is capable of walking on his/her own. If you require the use of a wheelchair, walker or cane, please call Rabbi Muskin to discuss the issue privately.

– If you realize that you are carrying while walking in a public domain, if the item can be discarded, it is best to dispose of the item in a backhanded fashion. If the item cannot be discarded, you should ideally walk back to the point of origin stopping every 4 to 6 feet.

– If on Shabbat/Yom Kippur you encounter someone carrying in a public domain because they are unaware that the Eruv is down, it is better not to inform the person until they have returned to a private domain so that their carrying remains an “inadvertent sin”.

Here’s the exception. Rav Yosef Kanefsky emails his congregants and then catches a ton of grief from other Orthodox Jews:

Dear friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot about identifying a halachik mechanism by which everyone can come to shul on Yom Kippur, including those of us with children who need strollers. If we work together as a community, we should be able to get it done. Whether you have small children or not, please read on:

(1) What we’d like to do is to match people who have non-Jewish housekeepers, or neighbors or friends, with people who need to have strollers pushed.

(2) We would pre-arrange for the non-Jewish friend to appear at your home at about 9:30 on Yom Kippur morning, and to stroll the stroller as you walk to shul. And then to reverse course at 3 PM (the end of mussaf).

(3) Some of the halachik fine points of this arrangement are:

a. That this is all arranged before Yom Kippur

b. That before or after Yom Kippur, the non-Jewish person will be compensated for his or her efforts (unless they refuse compensation)

c. That the person will not be asked to do anything else except the “mitzva need” of enabling you to come to shul

(4) So if you know someone who could be one of our strollers, or if you are in need of a “stroller”, please contact Orit at the shul office no later than Monday at noon.

(5) For any further questions, please contact me!

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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