Bidding farewell to Teddy Kollek: Former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek was laid to rest Thursday morning at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem.
His son Amos said during the funeral, "I am not a state eulogizer and I want to say a few personal things. Teddy Kollek was my father and he wasn’t an easy father. The example he set was impossible to imitate. There are no such people, not those who I know. I want to say to my mother, you chose the best man that could be, and he chose better, he chose you."
On the way from Safra Square to Mount Herzl, thousands of Jerusalem's residents paid their last respect to their legendary mayor.
Amos Kollek added, "I do not feel the need to say much about what my father did all his life, as this city speaks for itself and calls his name. Wherever you look, he's there."
The funeral was attended by President Moshe Katsav and his wife Gila, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.
Teddy Kollek's wife and son say goodbye (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that "Teddy pronounced the name Jerusalem in his own way, 'Yereshalayim.' He was definitely able to pronounce its name properly, but he didn't want to. He didn’t like those who stepped on the grass and dirtied the strees of the city and destroyed its scenery.
"To put it mildly, he didn’t like those who didn’t love Jerusalem like he loved it. At an age when people start thinking about their retirement, after an exceptional career of running the Prime Minister's Office, Teddy Kollek took the opportunity created and rose with it.
"David Ben Gurion declared Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel in 1949. Teddy Kollek turned it into the capital, not by virtue of memories and prayers and longing, but by virtue of creation, construction, diligence, tolerance and the intolerance which lived in his body together.
"Teddy turned Jerusalem into the center of his existence. Yehuda Amichai wrote that it is sad to be the mayor of Jerusalem. He didn’t write it about Teddy, but about his predecessor. Teddy wasn't sad, he was glad to be the mayor."
Peres: He left a city that was taking off
Vice Premier Shimon Peres said, "He left a Jerusalem which was taking off, not a buried Jerusalem. It wasn't easy, Jerusalem is not only a city of three religions, but also a city that is so split in itself. How can one unite what is so difficult to unite and still stand and work to improve and fight?
"The battle has not ended, the dangers have not stopped, but the main lesson is that there are such people who can be so young, who can be so bold and devoted. This is Teddy's last will."
Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik said, "Not only Jerusalem's residents and his friends in Israel and in the world mourn his passing, an entire nation is bidding farewell to a dear and loved leader. He was never called the mayor, he was first of all Teddy, just teddy. Without Teddy's vision, the city would look completely different.
"I was your deputy and I worked by your sides for many hours. Today I remember the first day I met you. I stood before you and could barely talk, and now years have passed and I am standing again before you, hardly able to speak."
Before the start of the procession, Kollek's daughter Osnat turned to the many people who arrived to pass by his casket and said, "I wanted to tell you that my father loved all of you. He loved the Jews, the Arabs, and everyone. He always told me that although there are difficult times, Jerusalem will win, you will see."
Kollek's son Amos recited Kaddish (sanctification prayer) for the ascent of his father's soul. Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch recited Psalms, and was accompanied by Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski and Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Jacob Edery, who also recited Psalms.
The funeral was open to the public. Among the thousands of people who came to pass by his casket was former Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat, who came to bid farewell to an esteemed colleague.
"I say goodbye to him and with a heartache, I am standing here and crying," he said. "He set an example to me and I imitated him in many ways.
"After Kollek established the Jerusalem Foundation, I established the Tel Aviv Foundation – I understood that if Teddy says that should be done, then it's important. In spite of his old age, he could have contributed to us for many more years."
Shlomit Rangini and Sima Bazalel, both municipality employees, also passed by the casket.
"He was an incredible person, very modest. When we wanted to talk to him, we would call the office and he would answer the phone. He is a man who built Jerusalem and there was no corruption during his term in office."
Teddy Kollek was Mayor of Jerusalem for 28 years, starting from 1965 when he was elected by the Rafi movement after the six day war, to lead the unified capital.