I had the honor of working with Teddy Kollek for the 14 years since he ended his duties as the mayor of Jerusalem. When I started, I was a young girl who had finished her army service and was searching for a meaningful occupation. I began as a secretary at Teddy's office. I can still remember him saying: "After working with me, you'll be the best secretary."
A few years later, I became Teddy's private assistant at the Jerusalem Foundation and the Israel Museum, and became one of the closest people to him.
I spent long days and evenings alongside this amazing man, who gave himself and all he had for Jerusalem and its people even though he was no longer the mayor. His days were filled with meetings with prominent people from Israel and from abroad who left checks on his desk to help finance another important project in Jerusalem. I joined him on his tours and shared his ups and downs.
One thing in particular that Teddy couldn't stand was wasting time. "Enough with the talking!" he used to say. "Be productive. Start doing!" Sitting in my small car next to me, he was even anxious about time lost waiting for the traffic lights to change.
He spent every spare moment thinking about what he could do for Jerusalem that he hadn't done already: more trees for a greener city, better education, more cultural events, more collections for the Israel Museum, more animals for the Biblical Zoo. He always had the feeling that as much as he did, it wasn't enough.
Along with Teddy "The Lion," there was also"Our Teddy," a humble, modest man who always apologized when he was wrong, made his appreciation known, had a healthy sense of humor, put the good of others ahead of his own, and kept photos of his beloved grandchildren on his desk.
It is appropriate indeed that Teddy will be buried on Thursday in the "greats of the nation" section of Mt. Herzl cemetery: He was one of a kind, and the last of the giants of his era. It was an honor to work with him. Jerusalem has lost a father and I have lost another grandfather.
Rest in peace, my dear Teddy, and keep watching over us from your heavenly seat.
The writer was Kollek's longtime private assistant.
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