Updated: Nov 14, 2019
The calendar is replete with days that are significant to the Jewish nation. It should therefore come as no surprise that many of these dates – and activities associated with them – have become names of streets and communities in Israel.
The ram’s horn is the iconic symbol of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. To mark the auspicious holiday, many Israeli streets are named “Hashofar.” A week later is the Day of Judgment, and “Yom Hakippurim” Street can be found in Holon and Rehovot.
Immediately after the High Holy Days, we celebrate “Sukkot,” and streets in Be’er Sheva and Haifa proudly bear the holiday’s name. Several Israeli streets named “Arba Minim” honor the mitzvah of shaking the four species during the week-long holiday. In addition, streets in a number of cities are named for each of these species: “Ha’etrog” or citron, “Halulav” or palm branch, “Hahadasim” or myrtle branch, and “Ha’arava” or willow.
The next holiday is Hanukkah and streets across the country are named “Maccabeem” for the Maccabean warriors who led the revolt against the Greek armies and the Hellenistic influence on Jewish life. The community “Hashmonaim” is an alternative name for the Maccabees, and the neighboring city of “Modiin” is named after the priest and leader Matityahu Hamodai, father of the legendary “Yehudah Hamaccabi” or Judah the Maccabee, whose name also adorns streets in half a dozen cities.
Two months later is the joyous holiday of Purim. Take a stroll in Rishon Lezion and the colorful Purim story will come alive. Some examples of the many Purim-themed streets you will encounter include “Shushan Habira,” the capital of the Persian empire where the story unfolded, the month of “Adar” in which the miracles took place, the heroes “Mordechai Hayehudi” and “Esther Hamalka,” and “Hapur,” the lots which the wicked Haman cast to determine which day to exterminate the Jews. There is a street named “Hamegilla,” the scroll chronicling the Purim story that we read on the holiday, and even a street named “Shoshanat Yaakov,” the prayer sung upon completion of the megillah reading.
The following month is Nissan in which we celebrate Passover. I was initially puzzled why the holiday with the most incredible miracles does not have street names memorializing these remarkable stories. Perhaps it is because the plagues, though fascinating, would arguably be poor choices for street names. I wouldn’t want to visit a friend living on “Death of the First-Born” Street, and it might be somewhat repulsive to dine at a restaurant located on “Pestilence” Street. However, “Yam Suf” or Red Sea, which miraculously split seven days after the exodus from Egypt, “Shirat Hayam” or Song of the Sea, which the Jews spontaneously sang to celebrate their salvation after walking through the parted sea, and “Har Sinai” or Mount Sinai, where the nation received the Torah soon thereafter on Shavuot, are all emblazoned on street signs across the country.
One of the very few streets named for a Gregorian calendar date is Jerusalem’s “Kaf Tet B’November.” The name commemorates November 29, 1947, the day in which the United Nation’s Partition Plan was approved. On that fateful day, the Jewish delegation dramatically eked out the required two-thirds majority, paving the way for the creation of the State of Israel.
Other streets that celebrate Israel’s inception include “Ha’atzmaut” or Independence, which can be found in several cities; Be’er Sheva’s “Kachol V’lavan” or Blue and White, in honor of the Israeli flag; and Tel Aviv’s intersecting streets “Hei B’Iyar” (5 Iyar) and “Taf Shin Chet” (5708), which corresponds to May 14, 1948, the date when the State of Israel proclaimed its independence.
Street names mirror the values and history of a nation. How fortunate we are to have a Jewish homeland that treasures our magnificent past, which offers us hope for a glorious future.
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.