Jerusalem alderman wants more streets named for women
Road to recoveryLatest list of street names: 1 woman; 15 men

Jerusalem alderman wants more streets named for women

Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat reaches out to the public for suggestions in bid to rectify skew favoring men

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

למעלה מאלף רחובות על שם גבריםפחות ממאה רחובות על שם נשים נראה לכן הגיוני?בישיבת וועדה האחרונה לשמות רחובות בעיר, נדהמתי לגלות שמתוך 16 מועמדים דנו באישה אחת בלבד! כששיתפתי את התסכול שלי בפייסבוק, עלו כאן עשרות רעיונות מצוינים ושמות מעולים לרחובות על שם נשים, פה בירושלים. אז בואו ניקח את הרעיונות שלכן ונוריד אותם לשטח. יש לכן רעיון למישהי שהשם שלה חייב להיות שם של רחוב? בואו נגרום לזה לקרות. עושות את זה ככה:1. מלאו טופס הגשת מועמדות: צרפו אליו מסמכים תומכים: ביוגרפיות, מסמכים, תמונות והכי חשוב - מכתבי המלצה. כמה שיותר יותר טוב.3. שלחו אותו אלינו למייל gryehuda@jerusalem.muni.il4. אנחנו בסיעת ירושלמים נשתדל מאוד להביא את השם שהצעתן לוועדה ונדחף אותו ככה שיעלה על מפת ירושלים!מחכים להצעות שלכם!#נשים_על_המפה רחוב משלה

Posted by Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat on Saturday, 27 January 2018

Gender issues are nothing new in Jerusalem, a city where the boundaries of the male-female divide are regularly contested at the Western Wall, on public buses, and even on billboards.

Now, one city council member has been taking a good look at the proposed names for the capital’s new streets, and he doesn’t like what he’s seeing.

“I was shocked to see that the list of names of new streets included one woman and 15 men,” said Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat, the newest city council member in the Yerushalmim party, and a member of the municipality name committee.

“I thought, this is insane,” he said. “Sure, 100, maybe 50 years ago, there was disproportionate gravitas given to males as candidates, but this has changed, and in the year 2018 there can’t be such a lopsided imbalance.”

The chair of the street-naming committee, Yael Antebi, happens to be a woman, and when Greenfield-Gilat proposed evening the balance, Antebi concurred but told him he needed some solid candidates.

“So I came up with this project,” he said.

Called “Women on the Map,” Greenfield-Gilat put together a short video as a call to Jerusalem residents to suggest women of note who deserve to have a street named after them.

In the video, he made his way around various neighborhoods in the city, pointing out the general dearth of female names.

One relatively new addition is Dina Street in Baka, named for the biblical daughter. Even there, Greenfield-Gilat pointed out that the street sign identifies her as Dina, the daughter of Jacob, rather than Dina, the daughter of Jacob and Leah.

Dina Street Jerusalem. (Stuart Winer/Times of Israel)

“Why be so limited on these issues?” he said. “Even when it’s done, it’s done wrong. We have to change the perspective, we have to promote women to be part of the public ecosystem.”

Greenfield-Gilat acknowledged that his initiative could be more challenging in ultra-Orthodox areas of the city, but wasn’t too worried.

“The Haredi public is much more open to recognizing not only rabbis, but impressive women,” he said. “You can find candidates that fit every culture. The idea is that there should be women, because there are enough men. But sure, that will be easier in Baka or Arnona or Beit Hakerem.”

Each entry requires recommendation letters and a short biography, providing information about why the proposed person is worthy of being part of the Jerusalem map.

“We’ll see how many names we get,” said Greenfield-Gilat, who plans on offering his first list in February or April, depending on what he can compile by then. “It’s a long process, but it’s an easy one. This isn’t a final status agreement over Jerusalem.”

Those other, more complex issues facing Jerusalem are familiar to Greenfield-Gilat, an architect and urban planner who has specialized in conflict resolution and planning, looking at how planning and design can enhance peacemaking and territorial issues. His firm, SAYA — Design for Change, offers those services to different peacemaking initiatives.

Born in New York and raised in Jerusalem from the age of five, Greenfield-Gilat decided to get involved with municipal politics, because that’s “where you can get things done.”

He took over for Rabbi Aharon Leibowitz, who left the city council in order to pursue full-time his Hashgacha Pratit initiative, the alternative kosher certification program he began through the Yerushalmim Party.

As for street names, the lack of avenues named for women isn’t limited to Jerusalem, said Greenfield-Gilat.

“It’s in Tel Aviv, too, and while there are some cities with better statistics, most cities have to improve on this,” he said. “But hopefully this won’t just start and end with Jerusalem.”

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