Jerusalem’s Streets: Neighborhood Themes
Updated: Aug 14, 2019
Throughout the world, many neighborhoods have groups of streets with names related to a specific theme. For example, growing up in Long Beach, New York, I lived on Walnut Street and my friends lived on Olive, Pine, Maple and Beech. Likewise, before making aliyah, we lived in Bergenfield NJ on Westminster Avenue, and the neighboring streets were Rector, Tudor, Highgate, Thames and Hampton.
Similarly, most of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods have street name themes. Often, the names relate to famous nearby sites. For example, Abu Tor is a neighborhood situated in the southern part of the capital. Located next to Ir David, many of Abu Tor’s streets are named for King David’s relatives, including ancestors Obed, Naomi and Yishai, and his sister Tzruya.
Arnona is one of Jerusalem’s southernmost neighborhoods and offers panoramic views toward Gush Etzion to the south. Accordingly, a number of streets in Arnona were named after Jewish settlements that fell in 1948, including Kfar Etzion, Massuot Yitzchak, and Ein Tzurim.
On the topic of Jewish martyrdom during the country’s nascent years, the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood is named for the Commissioner’s Palace which was built during the British Mandate period. Numerous streets were named in memory of the Jewish underground fighters who were killed by the British leading up to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The main street is Olei Hagardom - meaning those who went up on the scaffolding - alluding to the many Jewish fighters who were executed on the scaffold in the Acre prison. Some of the blocks that run into Olei Hagardom Street are named in memory of people who were executed in Acre, including Yechiel Drezner and Dov Gruner, among others.
Baka’s streets are named after the tribes of Israel, such as Yehudah, Naftali, Levi, etc. and the Judges, such as Barak and Yiftach.
Numerous neighborhoods in Jerusalem have clusters of streets named after Jewish heroes throughout history, starting from the Bible, through the great Talmudic and Post-Talmudic sages, to the leading sages over the past millennium plus Zionist leaders and Lovers of Zion.
Predictably, some streets are named for indigenous flora and fauna, the seven species, trees and spices. Somewhat surprisingly, and charmingly, over a half dozen streets located adjacent to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo are named for animals, such as HaShu’al (fox) and HaDov (bear).
I was particularly impressed with the theme in Kiryat Menachem and Kiryat Hayovel. Many streets are named after the Latin American countries that voted in favor of the United Nations Partition Plan on November 29, 1947 (and yes, there is also a street named in honor of that date), which paved the way for the establishment of the State of Israel. These street names include Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela. A number of these countries have subsequently changed allegiances; nonetheless, when we needed to achieve the two-thirds majority to gain our independence, these nations were on our side. The street names serve as an eternal demonstration of our appreciation for their friendship on that miraculous day.
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.