Theodor (Teddy) Kollek, named after Theodor Herzl, served as mayor of Jerusalem from 1965 until 1993.
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this morning (Tuesday), 2 January 2007, eulogized former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, who passed away today, aged 95:
"Teddy Kollek was one of the builders of the new Jerusalem after the 1967 Six Day War. When he was elected mayor [in 1965], Jerusalem was a divided city with a status unworthy of itself. When he left the mayor’s office in 1993, Jerusalem was a great, modern and united city. Teddy Kollek sang Jerusalem’s praises around the world. He decisively influenced the city’s way of life, culture, vistas, institutions as well as the relationships of its residents. His name will always be an inseparable part of Jerusalem’s glory.
Teddy Kollek was not active only in Jerusalem. Before his election as mayor, he was an aide to David Ben-Gurion. He also greatly contributed to the diplomatic and military efforts that led to the State of Israel’s independence in 1948. He served as Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office for over ten years. The Government and people of Israel bow their heads in deep sorrow at the passing of one the state’s great founding fathers and share in the grief of his widow Tamar and the Kollek family."
PM Ehud Olmert’s Eulogy for Teddy Kollek
Teddy pronounced the name Jerusalem in his own special way – Yereshalayim. I believe that is closest to the way he called the city which was his life.
He certainly knew how to pronounce Jerusalem properly, if he wanted to. However, he did not. Because Teddy wanted to shape Jerusalem in his own way, in his spirit, at his own initiative, in accordance with his dreams, in his love and also his hates. He also had such things in him – quite a few.
He did not like those who walked on the grass, littered the streets of the city and instilled in it a spirit of separation and fanaticism, and who marred its views and mutilated its surroundings. To put it mildly, he also did not like those who did not love Jerusalem as he loved it, and there were quite a few people like that as well.
Jerusalem was a marginal, slightly neglected and isolated city, far from the hubbub of action at the center of life in this country in 1967. And then, a once-in-a-lifetime, historical drama occurred. Jerusalem returned to being one city. This exciting moment, which was unique in the history of our people, almost waited for someone who could understand its dimensions and the opportunities created. Teddy Kollek was that man.
At an age when people already begin to think of retirement, after an exceptional career of building up a kibbutz, of fighting to establish a country, of running the Prime Minister’s Office – close to his great teacher, David Ben-Gurion – Teddy Kollek jumped at the historic opportunity created – and flew up, spread his wings and transformed Jerusalem into what it has become: an exciting, diverse, culturally vibrant city with wonderful museums and theaters, the pedestrian mall, education and sports centers, a city which is expanding and building new neighborhoods, one which is becoming a center of national and international life.
In 1949, David Ben-Gurion declared Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel. Teddy Kollek made it so. He did not do so through the force of the memories, prayers and longing which were an inseparable part of the ethos of our people, but rather through the force of creation, construction, industriousness, enthusiasm, patience and impatience in the same measure, depending on the situation prevailing in the city.
Teddy Kollek made Jerusalem his, made it the center of his existence and infected personalities around the world, who could not resist his personal charm and total dedication to realizing his goals vis-a-vis the city, with his enthusiastic spirit.
The poet Yehuda Amichai wrote, "It is sad to be the mayor of Jerusalem." He did not write those lines about Teddy, rather his predecessor. It was not sad for Teddy. He was happy to be mayor, and knew to spread his happiness to those around him. There were mayors before him who built and labored and contributed to the city. There were those who came after him, and there will even be more. There will never be another Teddy Kollek.
Once in a lifetime – in our lifetime – the city of Jerusalem was unified. And, luckily, Teddy was there to transform the unity from dream to reality.
Jerusalem – unlike any other city in the world – is treasured in infinite memories, those from long ago, of kings, leaders, prophets and preachers at the gates, all of which fit into its wonderful, diverse and colorful music. At the center of this experience, another name has been added, and from now on it will be an inseparable part of all that was and all that will be.
May Teddy’s memory be blessed – and live forever in this city.