All Roads Lead To . . .
One of the most famous – and longest – streets of Jerusalem is Rechov Yaffo, or Jaffa Street. It runs from the entrance of the city all the way to the Old City walls.
Why is this main thoroughfare in Jerusalem named after a city located adjacent to Tel Aviv?
From Biblical days (see Jonah 1:3) until the late 1800s, Jaffa served as the port city of Jerusalem. Visitors would disembark in Jaffa’s port and then continue their pilgrimage on land to Jerusalem. Interestingly, the present highway from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv follows a very similar route to the path taken by pilgrims over the past few thousand years.
Jaffa Road was originally paved in 1861 as part of the original highway to Jaffa. Because it was one of the first paved roads in Jerusalem, the street became a focal point for neighborhood expansion. It’s interesting to note that 150 years later, the light rail along Jaffa Street revitalized the very same thoroughfare and is similarly paving the way for additional Jerusalem expansion.
Rechov Yaffo’s name got us thinking about other Jerusalem streets whose names were chosen because they lead to other cities across Israel.
Derech Beit Lechem, Bethlehem Street, is a main north-south road which runs through Jerusalem’s Baka and German Colony neighborhoods. It is a vibrant, and elegant, shopping and dining street whose long history is reflected in the assortment of architectural styles found in the landmarked buildings found along this road.
The street used to serve as the main road connecting Jerusalem with Bethlehem. Archaeological digs uncovered the ancient road and traced its path from the Old City’s Jaffa Gate (and by this point in the article, we have an idea why it’s called Jaffa Gate) all the way to Bethlehem's northern entrance.
Derech Chevron, or Hebron Street, is a main thoroughfare in southern Jerusalem that presently runs parallel to Derech Beit Lechem, and extends from Jerusalem all the way to Hebron. Jerusalem and Chevron are two of the four holiest cities in Israel, the other two being Tiberias and Tzfat, both of whom also have streets in Jerusalem named after them.
Finally, Rechov Azza, or Gaza Street, was one of the major roads leading in and out of the city, providing merchants access to the southern coastal ports of Gaza and Ashkelon.
Incidentally, I had heard that a kosher restaurant in the middle of Jerusalem was named “From Gaza To Berlin”. Such an intriguing name. Do they serve Arab delicacies or German cuisine? Alternatively, what nefarious activities are taking place in the smoke-filled backrooms of this establishment? Soon thereafter, after showing my client a property on Rav Berlin Street, I walked down the block to the intersection of Azza Street. Located at the corner was that restaurant! I couldn’t stop laughing – and marveling – at the restaurant owner’s creativity when he chose the name. By the way, they serve hummus dishes – and the food is delicious!
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home (www.myisraelhome.com), a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.