(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Each year brings with it more and more streets named after the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. But some time soon we might also be seeing the first road named after Rabin's mother Rosa - and dozens of other women who so far have not gotten due recognition on Israel's avenues.
The Prime Minister's Office is pushing a new plan to name more streets and public buildings after women. Former Netanya mayor Vered Swid, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's adviser for social affairs, recently asked mayors and heads of local councils, including Yona Yahav of Haifa, Yitzhak Meir-Halevi of Eilat, Ya'acov Turner of Beersheba and Ron Huldai of Tel Aviv-Jaffa to name more streets after women who initiated significant change and made important contributions to society.
Swid told The Jerusalem Post that according to an informal survey she had conducted, only a few dozens of Tel Aviv's more than 2,000 streets were named after women.
The municipal leaders seemed receptive of the initiative and their cities' committees for street names would take it into consideration, Swid said.
"We must make sure that future generations will also know and remember who the women were who led a change, contributed and helped reshaping our world and reality," she said.
Among those whose names should be immortalized were women such as Rosa Rabin, who was a member of the Tel Aviv City Council; former MK Chyka Grossman-Orkin (1919-1996), who served as deputy Knesset speaker during the '70s and '80s and who fought against the Nazis in the Bialystok Ghetto; and Shoshana Parsitz (1892-1969), the first female MK to chair a permanent Knesset panel - the Education and Culture Committee - and an Israel Prize laureate for education.
Former minister Shulamit Aloni told the Post she supported anything that promoted women's social status and corrected inequality.
"I think streets should be named after nice things like flowers, ideas or great artists, for example, and not be named as Holocaust Street or other terms that remind us of awful things," Aloni said. "However, as long as men are being immortalized on street signs, women should be remembered in this way as well. Many women performed great deeds and dedicated their entire existence to achieving goals such as equal social rights and things like women's right to vote, to influence events or to control their own lives and bodies."
Aloni added that she herself would want to be remembered as someone who fought for freedom and human rights, but "not necessarily on a street sign, as people usually don't remember who these people were."
Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Yael Dayan's father, Moshe Dayan, was defense minister during the Six Day War and has many streets named after him. Yael Dayan also said that any gender inequity, whether in employment or in street names, had to be fixed. "The Tel Aviv Municipality is considered to be quite progressive when it comes to affirmative action for women, but there are places where the situation is not so encouraging," she said.
Dayan said that while Tel Aviv's city council was working to name more streets after women, they were finding it hard to do this in Arab and haredi neighborhoods, whose representatives tended not to nominate women's names.
"I, personally, don't think that the head of the Women's Corps in the IDF should be immortalized on a street sign, but rather artists, women of letters and intellectuals such as song writer Naomi Shemer - a school named after her was recently inaugurated - or author and poet Lea Goldberg, who is remembered in so many ways," Dayan said.
"In any case," added Dayan, "no matter how we honor women after they are gone, we should remember to respect them during their lifetimes as well."