You can't have a square named after you: you're not dead

By Nathan Jeffay, July 12, 2012
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Jerusalem looks poised to un-dedicate a square named after a Ukrainian oligarch after it emerged that the naming application was only passed by the municipality because it falsely implied he was dead.

The proposal to honour Vadim Rabinovich, a Ukrainian businessman who donated millions of pounds towards the rebuilding of the Hurva Synagogue in the Old City with a square in his name, said he is “of blessed memory”. But he actually attended the dedication ceremony in April, proving that he is alive and well.

This naming would have broken a municipal ordinance anywhere in Jerusalem, as only people deceased for three years or more can be honoured in that way. But Vadim Rabinovich Square is in the Old City, where those memorialised must have died before 1500.

Now, the municipality has admitted that the naming went through the relevant committees as if it were for a dead person, and agreed to re-examine its decision. It is expected to rename the square after a more historic individual.

The municipality promised the re-examination in response to a High Court petition against the naming from city councillor Rachel Azaria of the Yerushalmim party.

“It was a fraudulent process that was against the law,” Ms Azaria’s spokesman said in an interview. “There’s a reason these laws are fixed — they are made to keep the history and cultural significance, to keep the atmosphere and uniqueness of the Old City.”

Last updated: 1:26pm, July 12 2012