The annual Teddy Kollek award ceremony took on greater significance this year
because it coincided with the week of the 100th anniversary of his birth and was
presented between the Jewish and Gregorian calendar dates of the 44th
anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
The award was instituted
by the Jerusalem Foundation in January 1999, exactly eight years before the
death of legendary Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek.
The recipients were the
Azrieli Foundation, which operates in Israel and Canada, and was recognized for
its dedication to education and beautification of public spaces in the capital;
Aleksander Gudzowaty of Poland, in recognition of his commitment to interfaith
tolerance and coexistence in the city; Fred Worms, now of Israel and formerly of
the United Kingdom, for his continued support of numerous educational and
cultural institutions in the capital; and James S. Snyder, the American- born
director of the Israel Museum, for his vision and magnificent renovation of the
Hosted by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Jerusalem Foundation
President Ruth Cheshin, the ceremony was held at the Knesset in the presence of
Kollek’s wife, Tamar, his daughter, Osnat, and his son, Amos, as well as those
who had worked with Kollek in the Jerusalem Municipality he led from 1965 to
1993, in the Jerusalem Foundation he founded in 1966, and in the Israel Museum
he presided over from 1965 to 1996.
Before the official proceedings, the
crowd seated in the Knesset auditorium was shown a documentary on Kollek’s life,
from boyhood until just before his passing. In the film, Ed Koch, then-mayor of
New York, said during a visit to Jerusalem that there was no dispute over the
fact that Kollek was “mayor of all mayors.”
Accepting the compliment,
Kollek quipped at Koch’s expense: “He can’t raise money here, but I can raise
There was almost nothing that Kollek would not do for the
promotion and development of Jerusalem.
In one scene in the film, he is
asked to name a successor, and replies that it might be the messiah. In the next
scene, Kollek is filmed riding on the proverbial white donkey of the
Rivlin, who served under Kollek on the Jerusalem City Council
before making the transition from local to national politics, described Kollek
as the greatest builder of his generation, and the greatest builder of all time
since King Herod.
Kollek not only built Jerusalem, Rivlin said, he
transformed it from a divided to a united city with equal rights for all. The
evidence of this, Rivlin observed, was in the huge number of votes that Kollek
received from the Arab community.
Quoting Kollek, he said: “If you want a
united Jerusalem, you have to unite in such a way as to make all its residents
Mayor Nir Barkat said he had been very moved by seeing the film
about Kollek, because it so vividly demonstrated his leadership, his vision, and
his ability to get things done.
“He had an in-depth understanding of
challenges and opportunities, and he knew how to get people to become part of
his vision for the city,” Barkat said.
Cheshin, who has been president of
the Jerusalem Foundation ever since Kollek established it 44 years ago, said
that it was hard to imagine the energetic and eternally youthful Kollek as being
Aside from being an amazing achiever, she said, Kollek was always
available to anyone, regardless of his or her position in society.
attitude to a pauper was no different than to a millionaire.
observer of detail, Kollek saw the general picture but he also saw the
individual tree in the forest both literally and figuratively, said
He was always in a hurry to get things done and he was impatient
– but there was no one like him. Without Kollek’s initiative and drive, she
said, it would have taken much longer for the Israel Museum to have been
Speaking briefly of the Jerusalem Foundation, Cheshin said that it
was not only a vehicle for the funding and development of the city, but also a
means of enabling lovers of Jerusalem to express that love by participating in
the development of a modern, pluralistic and tolerant city.
pioneer David Azrieli was unable to come to Jerusalem to receive his award,
which was accepted on his behalf by his daughters Naomi, Dana and Sharon. They
spoke of his and their commitment to Jerusalem, and the excitement he felt 25
years ago, when his plan for building the Jerusalem Mall in Malha was
Declaring his love for the city, Gudzowaty said it had admirers
all over the world and had a great potential for teaching tolerance and peaceful
coexistence to everyone. Lamenting the fact that Jerusalem is beset by daily
conflicts, he insisted that this must change.
Worms and his wife, Della,
have been coming to Jerusalem on a regular basis for 50 years. Two years ago
they finally became permanent residents of the city.
Worms had a very
close relationship with Kollek. “It was a give and take relationship,” he said.
“I gave. Teddy took. He made you feel it was a privilege for you to give
and for him to take.”
Worms noted the level of cooperation between the
Jerusalem Foundation and the Jerusalem Municipality, and said that this pleased
him greatly because it was not always like that.
Recalling when Snyder
and his wife, Tina, first met Kollek in 1996, they knew very little about
Jerusalem or Israel, they quickly learned about Kollek’s vision for the museum,
he said. It had been a sheer pleasure to extend that vision, Snyder said, and to
be part of Kollek’s centenary celebration “could not mean more to
Snyder insisted that the award be shared with his colleagues at the
museum, the staff, the workers involved in the renovation and the museum board.
He also paid tribute to his wife for her unflagging support.
“What I have
accomplished could not be done without them,” he said.