Jerusalem Councilwoman Rachel Azaria has filed a petition with the High Court of Justice calling for City Hall to cancel the naming of a square in the Old City in honor of a Ukrainian oligarch. The square was named for Vadim Rabinovitch in early April, despite municipal ordinances that prohibit naming streets in the capital after the living and reserve Old City naming rights for those who died before 1500.
Rabinovitch was even present at the April ceremony for the naming of the square, located near the Western Wall. He addressed the assembled alongside Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Rabinovitch helped finance the reconstruction of the nearby Old City Hurva synagogue. He also funded a $3 million replica of the Temple menorah, which stands in a case in the square now named after him. The menorah weighs half a ton and contains 45 kilograms of 24-carat gold.
According to Azaria and her attorneys, city ordinances require a person to be dead for three years before a street or square can be named after him. In the Old City, a square or road can only be named after a person who died before the year 1500.
Azaria claimed in her petition that City Hall was misled by the request to name the square after Rabinovitch, since the oligarch was presented as being deceased. She said that before filing the court petition earlier this week she asked the mayor to change the name of the square, but received no response.
“The fact that Rabinovitch Square was named in a fraudulent and illegal process is deeply disturbing. I am disappointed that Mayor Nir Barkat was not as disturbed as we were by 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 be legal and fair,” Azaria said.
The Jerusalem Municipality had no immediate response to inquiries on the matter.