University City is a neighborhood in West Philadelphia that includes the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and other small colleges. Located in the heart of Philadelphia, the area attracts many college students, and has become the home of a vibrant collegiate Jewish Community centered around the University of Pennsylvania Hillel Foundation.
Essential to the growth of any Jewish community today is an eruv. An eruv allows members of the (observant) Jewish community to transport items from one property to another on the Sabbath; Sabbath Laws forbid this otherwise. How does an eruv accomplish this? In short, by declaring a given region as communal property, with a clearly delineated physical border.In January 1997 a student led effort was initiated to establish an eruv for the Jewish community at the University of Pennsylvania and surrounding areas and to attain the necessary approval from University and City authorities. For the following few years work was done to enclose the designated area of University City inconspicuously through a construction project supervised by Rabbinic consultants.
On Rosh Hashana of 5763 (September 7, 2002) the eruv was pronounced 'Kosher' for the first time. Since then a team of dedicated volunteers comprised of both undergraduate and graduate students have checked the eruv on a weekly basis to ensure its continued operation.