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Have you ever wondered about the stories behind the street names in Israel’s cities and towns? From politicians to poets, these names reflect the country’s rich history and diverse culture. Here are five famous Israeli street names – and the people they are named for:
Menachem Begin was an Israeli statesman and politician who served as the sixth Prime Minister of Israel from 1977 to 1983. Born in present-day Belarus, Begin’s family was deeply committed to Jewish tradition and Zionist ideals. He played a key role in the underground Jewish military organization, the Irgun, which fought against British rule in Palestine during the 1940s.
Begin went on to become a major figure in Israeli politics, leading the right-wing Likud party to victory in 1977 and ushering in a new era of conservatism in Israeli politics. His peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 won him the Nobel Peace Prize. Begin is an iconic figure in Israeli history and is widely regarded as one of Israel’s most influential leaders. He has streets named after him in Holon, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, Petach Tikva, Rehovot, and many more.
The preeminent Hebrew poet, writer, and cultural figure of the early 20th century, Chaim Nachman Bialik was born in present-day Ukraine. Bialik was deeply influenced by Jewish tradition and culture, and his writings often explored themes of Jewish identity and the Jewish experience. His poem “In the City of Slaughter,” which depicts the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, is considered one of the most powerful pieces of modern Hebrew literature.
Bialik was also a champion of the Hebrew language and played a key role in its revival as a modern language, helping to establish Hebrew as a language of modern literature. Bialik’s contributions to Hebrew culture and literature earned him the title of “Israel’s national poet,” and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest Hebrew writers of all time. He has streets named after him in Haifa, Holon, Tel Aviv, Tiberias, Ramat Gan, Jerusalem, Ashdod, and Hadera.
Hannah Senesh Street
A Jewish poet, playwright, and resistance fighter during World War II, Hannah Senesh was born in Hungary in 1921. She moved to Israel in 1939 to study agriculture and became involved in the Jewish paramilitary organization, the Haganah. In 1943, Senesh volunteered for a mission to parachute into Nazi-occupied Europe to assist in the rescue of Hungarian Jews. She was captured in Hungary, interrogated, and tortured by the Gestapo, but she refused to reveal any information about her mission. Senesh was ultimately executed by firing squad in 1944 at the age of 23, but her bravery and commitment to the Jewish cause has inspired generations.
Senesh’s poem “Eli, Eli,” which she wrote while imprisoned, has become a widely recognized anthem of Jewish resistance and resilience. Hannah Senesh is remembered as a symbol of Jewish heroism and sacrifice during one of the darkest periods of human history. She has streets named after her in Haifa, Lod, Beer Sheva, Tel Aviv, Herzliyah, Holon, Ashdod, Givatayim, and Raanana.
Ibn Gabirol Street
Ibn Gabirol, also known as Solomon ben Judah, was a prominent Jewish philosopher and poet of the medieval period. He was born in Malaga, Spain in the 11th century and his philosophical works, written in Arabic, were highly influential in both Jewish and Islamic intellectual circles.
Gabirol’s philosophical thought explored themes of metaphysics, ethics, and the nature of existence. In addition to his philosophical contributions, Gabirol was also a prolific poet and his works, which were written in Hebrew, have been praised for their beauty and emotional depth. His most famous poem, “Keter Malkhut” or “The Royal Crown,” is an ode to the glory of God and is a part of the traditional Jewish liturgy.
Despite living in a time of great persecution and religious intolerance, Gabirol’s philosophical and literary achievements had a lasting impact on Jewish and Islamic thought and continue to be studied and admired to this day. He has streets named after him in Tel Aviv, Herzliyah, Jerusalem, Beer Sheva, Holon, and Afula.
Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a Zionist leader, writer, and military strategist who played a key role in the establishment of the state of Israel. Born in Russia in 1880, Jabotinsky was an ardent Zionist and believed in the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He was a charismatic speaker and writer and founded the Jewish Legion, a military unit composed of Jewish volunteers that fought alongside the British in World War I. It was the first Jewish fighting force since the days of the Maccabees, 2,500 years ago!
Jabotinsky also advocated for the creation of a Jewish state in Israel, which he believed was the only solution to the persecution of Jews in Europe. Jabotinsky’s influence on Israeli politics and military strategy has been significant, and his writings and speeches continue to be studied and admired by many. Jabotinsky’s legacy as a passionate and outspoken advocate for Jewish self-determination has earned him a lasting place in Israeli history. Jabotinsky has 57 sites named after him, including streets, squares, and parks, in Bnei Brak, Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Rishon LeZion, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Givatayim, Raanana, Herzliyah, Netanya, Haifa, Ashkelon, Tiberias, Holon, Beer Sheva, Bat Yam, and more.
Israeli street names offer a glimpse into the rich and varied history of Israel and the Jewish people. Next time you’re in Israel, make sure to look them up!