There was somber admiration in the air as Jerusalemites reacted to the death of former mayor Teddy Kollek on Tuesday morning. Shopkeepers at the city's Mahane Yehuda market interviewed by The Jerusalem Post hours after Kollek's passing unanimously sang the praises of the man they called the "best mayor in Israeli history." "Do you see that man?" asked Yossi, a baker at one of the market's baked-good stalls, as he pointed to a picture of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. "Teddy Kollek was a statesmen on the level of Ben-Gurion. He wasn't just good for Jerusalem; he was great for Israel."
The 'Post' pays tribute to Teddy Kollek
Customers in the shop tuned into Yossi's comments and added their own Kollek memories to the conversation. One man, who used to own a restaurant in Jerusalem's city center, said proudly "Kollek would order French toast at my restaurant every morning."
Ilan, the owner of a nearby stand, chimed in that he had met with Kollek multiple times and discussed ideas with him for improving the city's open-air market.
Indeed, nearly everyone interviewed by the Post on Tuesday believed they had a personal connection to Kollek. Close to the market, on Rehov Jaffa, Jerusalem residents Batya and Chaim took pride in Kollek as a representative of all people. "He played soccer with students, prayed with the haredim. He even connected to the Arab population. He really had an appeal for everyone," said Chaim.
Batya added: "With Teddy, politics didn't matter. Everyone in Jerusalem loved him."
Malka, an elderly woman born in Jerusalem, summed up the mood around town: "It's a shame for the city. We've lost our greatest mayor. There are no politicians like Teddy today. There may never be another leader like him."