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. 





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