Farewell to Mayor of Jerusalem Legendary Teddy Kollek

Der Standard (01/04/2007)

State Secretary for the Arts and Media Morak at the state funeral of former Austrian “bridge builder” on Herzlberg

Jerusalem – The legendary, former Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek was laid to rest Thursday on Herzlberg in Jerusalem during a state funeral. Apart from Kollek’s family, participating at the ceremony were State President Moshe Katzav, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as numerous ministers. Austria was represented by State Secretary for the Arts and Media Franz Morak and Germany by President of Parliament Norbert Lammert.

Kollek’s son, film director Amos Kollek, spoke the Jewish mourner’s prayer, the Kaddish, after the simple wooden coffin was lowered into the grave. Thousand of Israelis had previously paid their respects to Kollek, who died on Tuesday at the age of 95. They pushed forward toward the coffin, covered with an Israeli flag, which was placed in a central location in the city.

An Example Impossible to Replicate

“Teddy Kollek was not an easy father,” said Amos Kollek in his farewell speech, while also addressing Kollek’s widow, Tamar, with comforting words, “The example which he gave us was impossible to replicate.” His father characterized “enthusiasm for life and work, strong will as well as patience and tolerance.”

“There were mayors who came before him who built and worked and committed themselves to the city, and there are those who come after him,” said Olmert. “But there will never be another Teddy Kollek.”

One Thought Only: Jerusalem
“When falling asleep or when awaking, there was only one thought on your mind: Jerusalem,” said the current mayor of the city, Uri Lupolianski, turning toward the deceased.

Born in Hungary and having spent his youth in Vienna, Kollek stood almost three decades – from 1965 to 1993 – at the pinnacle of the city of Jerusalem. In 1993, he was defeated by the current Prime Minister, Olmert, during the elections for mayor.

One of his most important concerns was to improve upon Jews and Arabs living together in the city. To this end, he also founded an association called the “Jerusalem Foundation.” The mayor preferred to go by the name of “Teddy” and continually walked the streets without any bodyguard. Even his private telephone number was listed in the telephone book for the purpose of people calling him about complaints, ranging from potholes in the streets to requests for building new playgrounds.

Born 1911
Kollek was born on May 27, 1911 as the son of a banker during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in the village of Nagyvaszony in the vicinity of Budapest. His father named him after the founder of modern-day Zionism, Theodor Herzl. He spent his childhood and youth in Vienna. He joined the Zionist youth movement, Blue-White. He graduated from school and then prepared to immigrate to Palestine, which became a British mandate in 1935. During WW II Kollek was on a secret mission in Europe, namely in London, to save the Jews from persecution by Nazi Germany.

After working in numerous functions in the areas of immigration and foreign policy, the Social Democrat became in 1965 the mayor of Jerusalem for the following 28 years – mayor of a city whose eastern half as well as the Old City was gained control of by Israel during the Six Day War. In 1993, Kollek was replaced by the conservative challenger, Olmert, as mayor. That very same year he received the honorary doctorate from the University of Vienna, and in 2001 Vienna made him an honorary citizen.