Teddy was the initiator and founder of the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens - The Biblical Zoo - in the south-west of Jerusalem. He was the major fundraiser and strived to establish the zoo while in office. Out of office, he became the zoo's No. 1 friend.
This was not because of a love of animals; it was, rather, because of the importance he attached to humans. Teddy recognized the social role the zoo could play in the city. And, indeed, it has become a meeting place for diverse populations - an island of sanity in this troubled city.
No one was more pleased than Teddy to learn that, in 2005, the zoo was the No. 1 tourist attraction in Israel. But what made him even happier was that tens of thousands of Muslims from east Jerusalem visit yearly, that the most ultra-Orthodox Jews pour in and that dozens of groups of children with special needs come on a weekly basis.
We were delighted to celebrate Teddy's 90th birthday with him at the zoo. The magnificent sculpture garden was founded for this event by the Jerusalem Foundation and friends from all over the world. How symbolic it is that the last time he went out, about three weeks before his death, with his wife Tamar, it was to the zoo.
Now Teddy is gone. Our sadness is not only over his death but, mostly, for ourselves as it emphasizes questions about Jerusalem as an open and pluralistic city that believes in equality for all.
Our elephants "Tamar" and "Teddy," named after the Kolleks, are still with us. We will find a way to commemorate his name at the zoo. And we will do all that we can to continue in Teddy's footsteps.
The writer is the director general of the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem.
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