Weekly photo challenge: A day in my life through Jerusalem’s street names

Jerusalem’s street names constantly remind me that I am engulfed by the history of my people and my city. I’m fascinated by the names and seeing them shapes my day-to-day life here.

For example, I might meet a friend on Ben Yehuda – named after the man who reawakened the ancient Hebrew language, transforming it into a modern tongue.

And then we might walk on Agron – named after a mayor of Jerusalem and the founder of the Jerusalem Post (then with a different name).

Here is a day in my Jerusalem life, based on some of the typical street names I pass on a regular basis. Click on the pictures to see a slideshow with explanations about all the of the street names mentioned here:

This post is in reply to wp.com’s weekly photo challenge.

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The Ramat Rachel-Talpiot trench of 1949 and other treasures I learned today

Today I started learning how to use the library, I opened up an account and I ordered my first books to look at in the reading rooms. I hung out with Rabbi Leshem while he was on duty in the reading room (is that what it’s called?) and skimmed around seven books.

One book I highly recommend is The Routledge Historical Atlas of Jerusalem by Martin Gilbert, Fourth Edition.

Atlas of Jerusalem by Martin Gilbert

The Routledge Historical Atlas of Jerusalem by Martin Gilbert, Fourth Edition

I felt so drawn in by every photograph since each one tells such a fascinating story. (Where can I find such amazing pictures and how does one figure out the copyright status on them?)

In Gilbert’s book I learned that in October 1948 the way to get from Ramat Rachel to Talpiot was via trench. I’m surprised that the street that is there today isn’t called Trench Street in memory of those wonderful times. OK fine, there were probably other trenches in Jerusalem. Anyway, crazy to think about considering what it’s like today.

Ramat Rachel to Talpiot October 1948

The trench between Ramat Rachel and Talpiot, Jerusalem neighbourhoods. October, 1949. “The good old days!”

Here is another amazing picture from Gilbert’s book:

A street in Rechavia - Can anyone figure out which street this is?

A street in Rechavia, 1937 – Can anyone figure out which street this is?

It was hard for me to part with this book because there was so much to get out of it.

Another book I looked at was the official list of Jerusalem’s street names… in 1959. A fancy shmancy book put together by the Jerusalem Municipality. Just the size of the list gets across how much the city has grown since then. Holding this ugly (OK fine, it really wasn’t beautiful at all) book in my hands felt like I was going back in time to when things were so new here. Imagine a 10-year-old state. It was just a child!

iriya's list of street names from april 20, 1959

Opening letter to the Iriya’s book listing all Jerusalem streets in alphabetical order. This letter is dated July 8, 1959, written by י. מאראש, מ”מ מזכיר העיר

And here is a picture of a small part of the list:

iriya's list of street names from april 20, 1959 copy of insideBut maybe most exciting of all, I found out today that one of the books which I found in a Google search but couldn’t find in the library, has been ordered especially for me by my friend Yisrael who is a librarian at the National Library! I feel so special! OK, so they should have the book anyway, but it feels like protexia and I’m sticking to that story.

Thank you, Yisrael!

Not sure exactly what my next step is but I’m so relieved that I took my first step (besides some research and brainstorming I’ve done hiding at home). And I must say that it was amazing doing something today where the time just flew by. I didn’t eat, drink or pee for like five hours. OK, that is actually a problem and it was more due to the fact that I couldn’t figure out what to leave where and with whom in order to go to the WC but all in due time, dear people. It will be a dream come true if I become a comfortable inhabitant of the National Library. It’s such an exciting place!

My inaugural trip to the National Library of Israel

How exciting to wake up and find I don’t have Internet in my apartment. I had a list of arduous tasks, including ones connected to job searching and other such exciting things. But instead, I took it as a sign (and I don’t believe in signs). If I don’t have Internet, I have an excuse to do what I’ve been pushing off for around six months – go to the National Library of Israel and start dabbling in my latest dream – to write a book about the street names in Jerusalem.

I’m terrible at getting myself going because of my fear of failure but I called my sister Tsipora, told her to scream at me and tell me what to do, it worked, and I was on my way.

And here I finally am!

I'm surrounded by books about Jerusalem!

Surrounded by books about Jerusalem!

I need to go actually continue reading the books (and checking out the ones I ordered to the reading room upstairs) but I’ll just say one more thing.

Even the trip over here was inspiring. Every street announced on the bus’s speaker was the name of a person I know little to nothing about.

Sa’adiya Gaon

Rupin

Diskin

Chaim Hazaz

Eliezer Kaplan

And this is not to mention that almost every street corner in the city is a “square” named after even more people. Just on the way here I saw:

Rechavat Yosef Chakshuri

Kiryat David Ben Gurion

Kiryat Edmond Y. Safra

And at the entrance to Givat Ram campus:

Who were these people? I'm so curious!

Who were these people? I’m so curious!

Who were all these people? Were they extremely influential in Israel’s modern history? What can I learn from them?

We all know that every dream begins with a first blog post. Here is mine and it’s my attempt to make my dream come true.