Battle of the street name change – Will “Rechov Hakablan” in Har Nof become R’ Ovadia Yosef?

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HaRav Ovadia Yosef ZT"L in his beis medrash --- Kuvien Images

YWN reported two weeks ago that the name of Rechov Hakablan in Har Nof, Jerusalem, will be changed to Rechov R’ Ovadia Yosef in November.

Rechov Haklan has long been associated with R’ Ovadia Yosef, and the street became famous due to his residence there for many years, in his son and daughter-in-law’s home. Countless well-known personalities, from the most religious to the most secular, arrived on the street to meet the famous Gadol B’Torah.

The Shas party wanted to change the name of the street in 2013, following R’ Ovadida’s death, but they were prevented from doing so by a municipal regulation that at least two years must pass from a person’s death before a street can be named after him. But finally, the name change was approved in late September two weeks ago. Anyone opposed to the street name change can officially appeal to the Municipal Names Committee until October 22nd and if no objections are presented, the name change will then become official.

However, it seems like the long-awaited name change will not be so simple. A Ynet report on Monday morning said that the family of the original “kablan” (contractor) is vehemently opposed to the name change.

Rechov Hakablan was originally named for Yitzchak Avud Levi who passed away in 1981. He was the owner of a building company which specialized in finishing buildings with the famous Yerushalmi stone that Jerusalem buildings are characterized by. He built many buildings in Jerusalem neighborhoods but the pride of the family are the famous complexes he finished with Yerushalmi stone: Shaarei Tzedek and Hadassah Ein Kerem hospitals, the amphitheater of Hebrew University in Har Hatzofim and portions of the plazas by the Kosel and l’havdil the Knesset.

“My Saba was one of the builders of Jerusalem,” his granddaughter Yifat Levi told Ynet. “He was a modest man who worked extremely hard all his life together with his sons and built buildings and neighborhoods in Jerusalem. We found out about the plan to change the name of the street by coincidence – no one from the municipality updated us.”

“We have kavod for Rav Ovadia Yosef but not on the account of my grandfather,” Levi said. “I don’t think that Harav Ovadia Yosef would want to take the kavod that they granted to a person for his life work.”

In answer to whether the family would be willing to memorialize their grandfather’s name through another street, Levi responded, “This is a famous street. People recognize the street and it’s already well-known for 30 years. To say that they’ll give us another street is an insult and humiliation.”

The Jerusalem Municipality responded: “A change of name for a street is handled according to the municipal regulations and this includes repeated and thorough attempts to locate the original applicants [of the street name]. However, the applicants for the original request to call the street “Hakablan” were not located.”

“According to the customary procedures, upon the acceptance of the decision by the Jerusalem Municipal Names Committee, the decision was publicized in all types of media, including in national and local press, in Chareidi media, the Jerusalem Municipal website, on signs along [Hakablan] street, in the mailboxes of the street residents, and in the Har Nof community administration. This was done in order to allow an appeal of the decision. Upon the expiry of the objection period, [the objections] will be reviewed – if submitted as required – by the Municipal Names Committee and a decision will be reached on the matter.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)