Feb 11, 2013

Removing a Christian name from a Jewish town

With the Pope having surprisingly just announced his resignation a short while ago, I have decided that in his honor we will also be removing a Christian symbol from the public eye.

Nazareth is a town in the Lower Galilee of Israel, with a large [Arab] Christian population. While it used to be much higher, today it is estimated at 30%-40%, with the remaining 60%-70% being Muslim Arabs. The history of Nazareth is very Chistian, and is a center of Christian pilgrimage, due to it being the recognized childhood residence of Jesus.

Nazareth Ilit is a city very close to Nazareth, also on the slopes of the Nazareth Mountains, but with mostly a Jewish population, and with just a small minority of Christians and Muslims. In Nazareth Ilit resides a significant Haredi and religious community. The Har Yona neighborhood of Nazareth Ilit, named for the prophet Yona who was born and buried, according to tradition, in a nearby village (named today Mishad, but biblically known as Gat Hefer), in particular is the home to the haredi community.

3 years ago, Rav Chaim Kanievsky decided he wanted the name of Nazareth Ilit, or Upper Nazareth, to be changed. Rav Kanievsky said that the name "Nazareth" as part of the city name does not sound good to Jewish ears.

Rav Kanievsky sent a message, through R' Avraham Rubinstein, today the recently appointed mayor of Bnei Braq replacing Yaakov Asher who was just elected to the Knesset, to the mayor of Nazareth Ilit requesting that he work to change the name of the city. 3 years ago, the city council of Nazareth Ilit approved the changing of the city name, removing the word Nazareth from the name. However, changing the name of a city is not quite that easy. The Ministry of Interior has yet to approve the name change.

In the meantime, the mayor has been asking residents to make recommendations as to what the new name of the city should be. After many suggestions over the past 3 years, the decision has been made to change the name to "Hod HaGalil".
(source: Bechadrei)

Obviously the name change has nothing to do with the Pope or his resignation. The name change has been in the workings for 3 years already. But with the resignation announced today, I felt it worthy to also point out this process.

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  1. Here's some more on Nazareth Ilit Mayor Shimon Gapso. Interesting guy...

  2. Esser, thanks for that post!

    Rafi, in Hod Hagalil, there is an apparent steady increase of Arab residents that hopefully the recent national-religious influx Esser mentions, will stem.

  3. This is ridiculous. OK in Hebrew, the Arab city is called Natzeret, whilst the Jewish one is called Natzrat. Like it is Ramle in Arabic, and Ramla in Hbrew/ But I suspect the reason is because Christians in Hebrew are called Notzrim, apparently because their failed mashiach lived there. This is ridiculous. He also lived in Jerusalem. If Christians were called Yerushalmim, would he want to change the same of the city then too?


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