תודה רבה! Thank you to all of you who took seriously my request to send rain to Jerusalem. It's quarter to eight on a Thursday evening and there is a lovely, steady drizzle outside. The air is cool (only around 70 F but feels much cooler), people are carrying umbrellas, the sidewalks and streets are sparkling, the leaves have little droplets on them ... okay, so I am waxing on a bit much, but my sinuses are just so happy that it's raining! We allergy sufferers have been pretty miserable lately. Of course, that's not why I wanted it to rain - you know, all those crops and little things like drinking water - but the cleared air is a blessing. It's supposed to rain all through Shabbos - fairly heavy rain too.
So the question I have now is, can one carry an umbrella within the Jerusalem eruv on Shabbat?
There are plenty of people who tell me that one can, however I distinctly remember learning that once cannot carry an umbrella on Shabbat. In fact, I remember arguing with my mom (the Great Nana Harri) about this when I was in high school. I would walk to shul in the pouring rain without an umbrella b/c it was forbiden to carry one on Shabbos. I'd be dressed in a raincoat and rain hat and make pretend that these things would actually keep me dry on my mile plus walk to shul. Oh well.
Back to umbrella facts: One cannot carry an umbrella on Shabbat, even in an eruv, because (and here I quote Chabad b/c they are so much more into this than I): "Opening or closing an umbrella is akin to assembling or dismantling a tent—an act forbidden on Shabbat." (for more info on eruvim go to http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/700456/jewish/What-is-an-Eruv.htm#footnote3a700456) I'll keep an eye out this Shabbos and let you know what I see.
What is a good reconservadox gal like me doing worrying about an eruv? Good question. It's just that living in Jerusalem makes me think about these things; Shabbat observance is so much easier here than when living in America. For example, at home I live within an eruv that is maintained by an orthodox day school about 1/2 mile from my house. However, the eruv only covers 1/2 the distance to my Conservative shul, so theoretically I could carry my tallis and siddur halfway to shul, leave them at the edge of Rock Creek Park, and then head on to shul without them. I could then retrieve them on my way home for Shabbos lunch and schluff. Not a very effective way of managing one's Sabbath.
Ranted enough this evening, am going to enjoy the rain (which is getting a bit heavier) and see if Yerushalmis know how to drive in the rain. As a former transportation specialist, I know for a fact that too many people do not know how to drive in the rain which usually results in them slowing to a crawl and causing traffic jams (פקקים or P'kakim in hebrew). Strangely enough, here the drivers just seem to speed up!
Next time: The Conservative Yeshiva (www.conservativeyeshiva.org), where I spend the majority of my time.