Thursday, November 09, 2017


I used to live in a town where there was synagogue and a Jewish day school on the same street. Nothing surprising about that combination. What's interesting is the name of the street: Raoul Wallenberg Boulevard. I doubt that's coincidental. Wallenberg is, of course, forever remembered as one of the heroic and tragic figures of WWII, who saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust, while he himself apparently died in a Russian gulag. 

It's the combination of the street name and the two Jewish establishments that invites a special explanation. In principle, there are two explanations:

i) The street was named first, then members of the local Jewish community thought that would be a good place to have a school and synagogue, given the Jewish associations with the preexisting street name. 

ii) The street originally had a different name, then local Jews lobbied to change the name. On that view, the synagogue (or eruv) might predate the name of the street, which was renamed to reflect the eruv. 

Historically, the town in question has been a Jewish haven for centuries. I don't know which came first, but there's some case/effect connection, and in principle it could go either way. If I wanted to research the issue, the answer might be obtainable. From what I've read, that particular area is an eruv or Jewish neighborhood. Here's a definition:

So which came first: the eruv or the street name? Did the symbolism of the street name inspire local Jews to settle in that neighbored? Or did the Jewish complexion of that neighborhood result in officially renaming the street to correspond to the demographics? 

My point is that this illustrates the complexities of historical reconstruction when we read the Bible and relate some bits of information to other bits of information. All the data can be factual, but there may be more than one backstory that could account for the connections. And we don't have enough supplementary information to narrow it down to one conclusive explanation.

In addition, if something like the "coincidence" I just describe is reported in Scripture, many Bible scholars will say the correlation was creative to some degree. The narrator invented a place name to go with the corresponding details, or else he invented the corresponding details to go with the place name. Or he invented the whole thing, which is why we have this nifty correspondence. Yet the example I gave is a real life example. It's all true. 


  1. Steve,
    I believe it was you that put it up but, I am looking for a link or article that you posted arguing that abortion is murder because murders robs the potential for future life. Know of it?