Interior Minister Aryeh Deri is considering renaming a central Israeli city after Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Steinman, the 104-year-old leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, who died last month.
Senior rabbis in the Degel Hatorah faction of the United Torah Judaism party asked Deri, leader of the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party Shas, to rename the Haredi city of Elad “Ayelet Hashahar,” according to the ultra-Orthodox news website Kikar Hashabbat.
“The request has been received and it will be checked with the professional authorities,” said Deri on Tuesday, confirming the report.
“Ayelet Hashahar” is the title of a series of twelve books penned by Rabbi Shteinman on the Talmud. He published the work anonymously under the pseudonym “Ayelet Hashahar” which alludes to his initials and those of his wife, Tamar [AYeLeT = Aharon Yehuda Leib Tamar] in Hebrew, as well as Hebrew for the “morning star” mentioned in Psalms 22.
“It is only appropriate that a religious city like Elad proudly bear the name of the yeshiva leader, who always saw improving the prestige of the Torah and yeshiva world as his top priority,” the rabbis wrote to Deri, according to the report.
However, the move could be delayed until after municipal elections in October, the report added, due to the Interior Ministry’s policy of refraining from implementing major changes in local councils before elections.
It is not clear if the name change will be possible, given that Ayelet Hashahar is already the name of a kibbutz in the Upper Galilee.
During the month since his death and mass funeral, several buildings and neighborhoods have been named after Shteinman. These include a yeshiva complex in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Nazareth Illit, and a yeshiva in the neighborhood of Har Nof in Jerusalem.
Hundreds of thousands of people attended the funeral for Steinman. In his will, which was read at the ceremony, the rabbi instructed his followers not to give eulogies at the burial and that his grave be simply marked. He also said no praise should be publicized about him in the press and said children should not be named in his honor.