Netanya city council urged to explain street names

A Netanya city councilor is urging the city to put up signs explaining the names of local streets after a survey found that the city's teenagers were woefully ignorant about the famous personalities after whom the streets were named, reports Councilor Ofer Orenstein said it was astonishing to see that today's youngsters knew so little about people who had led the Jewish nation in the past and who had founded the modern state of Israel, and said this boded ill for the future. According to the report, 160 young people in Netanya answered a multiple-choice questionnaire about the names of a number of major streets in their city, and some of their replies were nothing short of "embarrassing." Asked about Rehov Tel Hai, some 75 percent said it was named after "a garden of statues which contains a famous statue of a lion," rather than after the site of the notorious 1920 battle in which Joseph Trumpeldor and other Jewish fighters lost their lives, and which the lion statue commemorates. Asked about Rehov Ramban, more than half the youths said it was named after "a well-known hospital in the north," referring to Haifa's Rambam Hospital, rather than after the renowned medieval scholar Rabbi Moshe Ben Nahman (Nahmanides). Similarly, 35% of the youngsters said that Rehov Dizengoff was named after "a successful businessman who founded Israel's first shopping mall, the Dizengoff Center," rather than the first mayor of Tel Aviv, Meir Dizengoff. In the wake of the survey, Orenstein placed an official request with the city to have street signs erected that would provide information about the people after whom the streets were named. "It is astonishing… that young people who live in the city do not really know the people who lived here in the past and who founded the state, or those who led the Jewish people for generations," Orenstein said. "Those who do not know their past are likely to lose their future." A municipal spokesman responded that the city had placed explanatory signs in about 30 streets over the years, and spent hundreds of thousands of shekels every year on rehabilitating street signs and signals, with a budget of NIS 350,000 this year for the repair and installation of road signs and signals. But Orenstein said the 30 explanatory signs that had been installed were "pathetic" and "an insult to the intelligence of residents," as they contained barely any information. He said the city had a budget of NIS 500,000 for statues, and should dedicate this sum to putting up "respectable and prominent" signs instead that would provide detailed information about the people after whom the streets were named.