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Jun 14, 2018

an interesting reason not to change a city name

There is an interesting debate going on in Modiin Ilit. Some people want to change the name of the city to Ayelet Hashachar, named for the seforim of Rav Shteinman. Others opposed it considering it disrespecful to Rav Shteinman, as every garbage can would have Ayelet Hashachar painted or inscribed in it, and people would talk about other negative things in Ayelet Hashachar.

The city council decided they would first vote on the issue and then look into the legality of the name change. The vote to change the name passed unanimously. It happens to be that they think the legal aspect will be a problem and the name change will not be approved as a different yishuv already bears the name Ayelet Hashachar.

That part of the story is less interesting (to me). Call it this, call it that. I dont really care.

The part that is interesting is this.. the rav of Modiin Ilit, Rav Mordechai Kessler, has opposed the name change. Rav Kessler explains that changing the name will cause many problems with all the marriages and divorces that happen in the city, just as there were difficulties when Kiryat Sefer changed its name to Modiin Ilit.
source: Actualic

I am not sure what the problems were in Kiryat Sefer when it changed to Modiin Ilit, and I am not sure what the problems would be now if Modiin Ilit changes to Ayelet Hashachar. However they solved it back then should work now as well and they can use the same solution, as that first name change did go through, and people continue to get married and divorced there. I would guess they write the name "modiin ilit" in the kesubas and gittin now, even though they used to write "kiryat sefer". and if they change the name again, they'll start writing the new name. It is an interesting approach, but if they've done it once and overcome they'll be able to do it again.

This reminds me of a story that happened in Chicago. When the CRC was looking to move its offices they had found an appropriate new location, but out of the city, in one of the suburbs with a large Jewish community. At the time Rav Gedalya Schwartz, the av beis din, said they cannot move out of Chicago-proper. His reasoning was that if anybody goes looking to contact the Chicago Rabbinical Council to ask about a gett they had performed, or anything else, but cannot find them in the Chicago phone book, they will suspect the organization and bring into question the integrity of all its gittin and other work. After that the CRC found a new location within Chicago-proper.

המרא דאתרא של מודיעין עילית הגר"מ קסלר התבטא לפני זמן קצר כי אין לשנות את שם העיר ל"איילת השחר". הגר"מ קסלר התבטא בנידון חריפות ואמר כי שינוי שמה של מודיעין עילית עלול לגרום בעיות רבות בגיטין וקידושין, כפי שהיה עם שינוי שמה של קריית ספר למודיעין עילית.
רב העיר מו"ע הגר"מ קסלר הביע תמיכה בעמדת סגן ראש העיר טוביה פריינד ומתנגד לשינוי שם העיר, מלבד הטיעונים שהועלו בישיבת המועצה, יהיו גם שאלות הלכתיות לגבי כתיבת שם העיר בכתובות ובגיטין. ויש להשאיר את השם 'מודיעין עילית'
לפני מספר חודשים פרסמנו כי ראש עיריית מודיעין עילית יעקב גוטרמן פנה ליו"ר שס אריה דרעי בבקשה להחליף את שמה של מודיעין עילית לאיילת השחר – ע"ש של מרן ראש הישיבה הרב שטיינמן, וזאת מכיוון שהרב שטיינמן תרם לעיר בכל צעד ושעל. מבחינה משפטית לא נראה שועדת השמות תאשר את ההחלטה וזאת משום ששם דומה יש כיום ביישוב איילת השחר.

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  1. Sort of related anecdote:

    I knew a Rav who lived in Detroit for several decades who refused to do Gittin. His reason was that the name of the city is mentioned in Rashi (who was referring to a city in France), and the local Bet Din did not spell it the same way.

    1. That's bizarre - city names in Gittin are transliterated in Yiddish, not Old French, so of course it's not spelled the same way.

    2. It sounds like the only reason to do that would be to write the name in Hebrew letters. Is that an actual requirement? Because the names of towns in the US are not Yiddish in origin. I guess this Rav felt that if Rashi had a spelling using Hebrew letters, that it was preferable to use that spelling, over something made up around 800+ years later.

      The Rav in question has been Niftar for many years, so we can only speculate.

    3. I'm sure that the Sefaradim don't write the names that way, so it must be only a custom. But nevertheless that is the way it is done.

  2. The Rav's name is Meir, not Mordechai.


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