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  • Writer's pictureGedaliah Borvick

Automobile Street?

Harechavim Street in Talpiot (Eliezer Goldberg)

Jerusalem has numerous streets whose names are connected to nearby historical sites. Ir David, the City of David, was the capital of Jerusalem when King David reigned almost three thousand years ago. The charming Givat Chananya community offers panoramic views of the Old City and Ir David, and therefore many of its streets are named for King David’s relatives, including ancestors Obed and Yishai, wife Batsheva and sister Tzruya.


Other streets are named for cities that the roads lead to. One of Jerusalem’s longest streets is Rechov Yaffo, which runs from the city’s entrance all the way to the Old City walls. Jaffa Street is named after Jaffa, a city adjacent to Tel Aviv, because from Biblical days (see Jonah 1:3) until the late 1800s, Jaffa served as the main 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 for thousands of years.


Derech Beit Lechem is named because of its historical connection as a route leading to another city. Also known as Bethlehem Street, it is a vibrant north-south road which runs through Jerusalem’s Baka and German Colony neighborhoods. Archaeological digs underneath this street uncovered the ancient road that served as an important route for pilgrims from the south who visited the Beit Hamikdash, or the Temple, on religious holidays.


Similarly, Derech Chevron is a main thoroughfare in southern Jerusalem that 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 Jerusalem, providing merchants access to the southern coastal ports of Gaza and Ashkelon. One of its most famous residents, Israel ben Moses Najara, served as Gaza’s chief rabbi over 400 years ago and composed many famous liturgical poems, including the Shabbat zemer, Kah Ribon Olam.


Now that we are all mavens of Jerusalem street themes, let me share with you a message that my normally even-keeled business partner Eliezer Goldberg excitedly sent me. Eliezer was walking with clients in Talpiot and passed by a street that for decades has been lined with car mechanic shops. The street is named Harechavim, which means vehicles in modern Hebrew, and Eliezer – and most everyone else in the city – always thought it was named for the industry that dominates the block. Glancing at the street sign for the first time, Eliezer realized that he was mistaken. The sign explains that the name Rechavim is in honor of the illustrious Benei Rechev family, also known as the Rechavim, from the First Temple period. Its patriarch was Yehonadav Ben Rehev, who is mentioned in Jeremiah and Kings 2.


Every time I read Jerusalem’s street signs, I learn something new. A fun activity that my brother-in-law and I enjoy – and I highly recommend that you give it a try – is to grab a few hours, and a few books about Jerusalem’s neighborhoods and streets, and wander around the city. It’s such a joy learning about our capital’s rich history, and you never know what new nuggets of information are awaiting you just around the corner.

 

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 gborvick@gmail.com.

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