When Ukrainian businessman Vadim Rabinovich died, they named a square after him
in Jerusalem’s Old City thanking him for donating funds that helped rebuild the
But reports of his death were greatly exaggerated, to
paraphrase Mark Twain.
Rabinovich, 58, is alive and well, and the naming
of a square in one of Judaism’s prime real estate locations is being objected to
in the High Court of Justice on grounds of fraudulence and
City councilwoman Rachel Azaria on Wednesday petitioned the
court to rescind the naming of the square, saying it was done under the pretense
that he had died and in gross violation of several municipal
Azaria, who is a member of the Yerushalmim faction in the
council, said the proposal to rename the square referred to Vadim Rabinovich
Z”L, a Hebrew abbreviation added to the names of the deceased. She said
municipal regulations strictly prohibit naming streets and squares after people
unless they have been dead for at least three years. She added that rules in the
Old City were even more stringent and precluded naming a street or square after
anyone who died after the year 1500.
“Jerusalem is fortunate to have many
important donors who are worthy of being honored, but there are laws and rules
and they must be obeyed,” Azaria said. “The fact that Rabinovich Square was
named in a fraudulent and illegal process is deeply disturbing.
disappointed Mayor Nir Barkat was not as disturbed as we were about the naming
process, and has not canceled the naming of the square. We believe that the High
Court will do justice, and make sure that the naming process in Jerusalem will
be legal and fair.”
There has also been debate over whether it is
appropriate to name a prominent square overlooking the Western Wall after a man
who is denied entry to the US for allegedly shady business
Rabinovich donated most of the money that helped rebuild the
Jewish Quarter’s landmark Hurva Synagogue.
The municipality on Thursday
did not answer questions on why it decided to name the square after Rabinovich
and said it was reviewing Azaria’s claims.
“The issue is being examined
by the legal counsel to the municipality, who is checking the procedure and its
relation to the municipal regulations,” it said. “After the process is complete,
we shall be able to answer further questions.”
An aide for Azaria,
however, said the municipality was stalling, and that he was still waiting for
answers to questions he submitted to it on the matter last month.