In this extract of a text called The Subversion of Jerusalem’s Sacred Vernaculars (which is part of Michael Sorkin’s book The Next Jerusalem), Eyal Weizman describes what I interpret as the flexibility of Israeli Jewish’s districts’ boundaries which demarcate their territory with a wire calls the Eruv.
Besides its complex political edges, Jerusalem is surrounded by a boundary that defines not its municipal border, but the geographical limits of one of its religions. The Eruv – a metal wire stretched over high poles – encapsulates the Jewish parts of the city, and prescribes a different religious use mode within it.
The Eruv is a mobile frontier that is always rerouted to encapsulate every newly built Jewish neighborhood in the city. The path of the Eruv marks therefore the momentary state of the city’s Jewish neighborhoods. The Eruv of Jerusalem is about 100km long, but its metal wire, the only necessary element of its construction, weighs no more than 80kg.
Along its path the Eruv boundary manifest itself in different ways. Beyond its presence as a series of poles strung with wire, the Eruv, like a giant-scale act of urban bricolage, incorporates and uses the existing boundaries and urban scars of Jerusalem: fences, walls, concrete decks, metal handrails, rock faces, houses facades, a water reservoir, a railway line, a deep valley to mark its boundary, saving the use of poles and string. These elements could be considered parts of an Eruv boundary, according to lwas described in the Talmud, on the single condition that hey be higher or deeper than one meter. Seeing the city as an object, the Eruv reinterpres and reuses its props and imbues them with another meaning.