Since it was founded 13 years ago, the city of Modi'in, midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, has not given names to its neighborhoods. Instead, residents began calling each neighborhood after the architect who designed it, such as Safdie, Buchman and Tzipor. However, last week the municipality announced a competition to give the neighborhoods new names.
Suggestions will be brought before an ad hoc municipal committee, and then passed on for approval by the city council. The municipality said residents will soon be able to vote from among the list of finalists on the city's Website (www.modiin.muni.il). Once the new names are selected the city will hold an official ceremony.
"The aim of the initiative is to give city residents a feeling of community," Mayor Haim Bibas said. "[The poll] will be held in full cooperation with the residents."
"Residents have been talking to me about it for over a decade," added Moti Gruner, a city councilman and chairman of the naming committee. "For instance, the streets in the so-called Miromi neighborhood are named after flowers, so residents have asked if we should name the whole neighborhood after them. Or the so-called Shimshoni neighborhood whose streets are named after prophets could also be called the 'prophets' neighborhood.'"
"No one decided to name the neighborhoods after their architects," Moshe Shechter, the city's first mayor, recalls. "There weren't even street names back then, and areas were referred to according to their planners."
Shechter believes the city should not try to rename the neighborhoods. "In time, the neighborhoods will cease to be called after their architects naturally," he said. "The municipality just has to make sure not to refer to them by their unofficial names."
"I only use the name Kaiser," countered Hila Cohen, 33, who lives in the neighborhood unofficially named after its architect. Cohen said it might be difficult to replace the commonly accepted names with new ones. "When I tell them I live in Kaiser, people know what I'm talking about," she said.
Shikma Zeltzer, who also lives in Kaiser but used to live in Shimshoni, believes the municipality's idea to rename the neighborhoods is a good one. "There are so many people we can commemorate, so why should we commemorate someone who just did his job and was paid for his services?" she wondered.
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