Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Where the streets have names

Omer Yaniv

How are street names chosen? Here in Jerusalem, a city with a rich history and religious symbolic importance, we can presume that there are not enough streets, alleys, roads, avenues and squares to commemorate the thousands of figures, spots and events that deserve to be remembered. At present there are over three thousand named streets and sites in the city. To successfully face a growing demand to memorialize so many people, two committees are active in the Jerusalem Municipality, a public municipal name committee and an advisory committee, which together decide whether or not the contribution and legacy of the nominated figures justifies the commemoration. Lately the municipality has been making an effort to give names to the many nameless streets of East Jerusalem, with the participation of the local residents.

A theme in street names can be found in some Jerusalem neighborhoods. Intellectuals of the Middle Ages, for example, can be found in Rehavia; the tribes of Israel, alongside biblical judges, characterize Bak'a; and animals are the theme in Malcha.

Looking at the street names in Israel as a whole, we see that plant names, and especially the seven species, are the most common. Other popular choices are the names of precious stones, animals, Jewish and Israeli leaders, military units and more. The most common street names in the country are HaZayit - 'The Olive' (225 streets around the country); HeGefen - 'The Vine' (213); HaRimon - 'The Pomegranate' (204); and HaTamar - 'The Date Palm' (174). Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, is the most popular person among street names, with 79 streets named after him. The woman who is commemorated in the highest number of streets is Hannah Senesh - 41 streets in Israel are named after her. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sha-Bus Rider

Erela Ganan

Lately, we have witnessed growing civic activity aimed at expanding the operating time of public transportation to include service on Shabbat. But will there be significant demand for a Shabbat bus? 

To find out, we can first look at the number of people using public transport on weekdays. In its last census (conducted in 2008), the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) found that 41% of the workers in the country commuted to work using alternative modes of transportation, rather than their own private car: 1,115,900 people traveled to work via bus, train, shuttle, taxi, bike, or simply walked. In Jerusalem, the rate is even higher, at 50%. In addition, public transport is used by thousands of school children, soldiers, students, elderly people and others, but data on these groups' rate of use are missing. 

Second, we want to find out the public's position on travel during Shabbat. In the CBS' social survey of 2009, which focused on religion, 53% of the Jewish respondents aged 20 and over stated they support activation of public transport on Shabbat. It is important to note that non-Jewish people, who are not likely to object to Shabbat buses, comprise 25% of Israel's residents, and 38% of Jerusalem's population.

Jewish respondents who stated they were traditional or secular were asked if they ride on Shabbat (observant Jews were assumed to avoid it). Eighty-seven percent of the traditional-loosely observant answered that they do not (or scarcely do) avoid traveling on Shabbat, and surprisingly, as many as 42% of the traditional-observant also stated they do not (or scarcely do) avoid it. Altogether, 84% of these populations stated they do not stay away from traveling on Shabbat, which means that 45% of the Jewish public aged 20 and over in Israel, or 2.5 million people, do not avoid it. This, along with the fact that 41% of the workers use alternative transit to commute to work (as stated above), leads us to assume that approximately 18% of the people in these groups are potential clients for public transportation, should it run on the 61 days every year that it ceases to function – weekends and Jewish holidays (not including Yom Kippur). This population sums up to over a million persons. In the meantime, those who are Jerusalemites can use the East Jerusalem transportation system, active seven days a week.

Source: Central Bureau of Statistics