July 11, 2024
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Jewish Community in Las Vegas Completes Summerlin Eruv

Las Vegas. Most people would associate the name with casinos, theme hotels and the city’s famed strip, but as the most populous city in Nevada, Las Vegas is also home to 68 parks, a minor league farm team for the New York Mets, several well-known museums and three thriving Jewish communities.

Kosher food can be easily had both in the supermarket and in the assorted eateries that dot the landscape, and in addition to eight Chabad houses in and around Las Vegas, there are numerous Orthodox shuls and a few day schools. But perhaps one of the most exciting developments in the area is the completion of Las Vegas’ third eruv in Summerlin, a planned community to the west of the city, named as one of the best places to live by Money Magazine in 2014.

Rabbi Daniel Rubenstein of the Community Kollel of Greater Las Vegas said that the completion of the eruv this past October has sparked tremendous interest in Summerlin, both from those who are taking their first steps towards Shabbos observance and those who are seeking an Orthodox community.

“Many of the people who used to drive to shul have found themselves uncomfortable doing so and since we have the eruv many more people come to shul on Shabbos,” said Rabbi Rubenstein, who noted that Orthodox visitors have expressed an interest in moving once the eruv is in place.

Constructing the eruv was no small feat. Getting permission from NV Energy to use its utility poles was relatively simple, but arranging to run the eruv over five highway overpasses which belonged to the City of Las Vegas but were under county jurisdiction was much more complicated.

Adam Snukal, an attorney with international law firm Greenberg Traurig which also has offices in Las Vegas, was contacted by a relative of Rabbi Rubenstein, asking him if he could help smooth the obstacles that the eruv committee was encountering.

Snukal reached out to Mike Bonner, managing shareholder at Greenberg Traurig’s Las Vegas office, whom he described as a “tremendous ohaiv Yisrael,” and asked him to intervene.

“I explained the intricate halachos to him and why it is critical to the community,” said Snukal. “He told me immediately, ‘I don’t know exactly what you need or what you are talking about, but we are going to get this done.’”

Over the next year, Greenberg Traurig provided pro bono services to the eruv project.

“Our zoning and real estate folks in the Las Vegas office were working with the city and the utility company and every time the project stalled or hit a wall, Mike would call the person who needed to be called and make it happen,” said Snukal. “He knew that there were young Jewish families counting on us.”

Having an electrician in the community proved to be helpful when it came to placing the eruv over highway overpasses.

“He ordered a cherry picker and got a barricade company to block the roads while they were working,” said Rabbi Rubenstein. “We had to shut down each of the overpasses so we did the work late at night. It took two nights to do all five overpasses.”

The project was nearly completed when it ran into a final snag: an outstanding debt that had to be paid to NV Energy for consulting work and drawings that had been done.

“It wasn’t a lot of money, but when you are a kollel in Las Vegas you count your shekels,” recalled Snukal. “The city wouldn’t sign off on the project until the debt was cleared. Mike got on the phone with the head of the utility company and told them that it was God’s work that was being done. Next thing we knew we got an email saying that the project had been approved.”

According to Snukal, Greenberg Traurig is the only international law firm with offices in Israel. Snukal said that the company’s co-chairman and former CEO, whose family was taken in by Jews when they came to the United States from Cuba, has a soft spot in his heart for all things Jewish.

“This was an amazing opportunity to be able to give back,” noted Snukal. “It was a real zechus.”

Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and many private clients. She can be contacted at [email protected].

By Sandy Eller

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