The Lion of Jerusalem

The capital of Israel had two symbols - the lion and Teddy, and it had always seemed impossible to differentiate between the two: Teddy was Jerusalem and Jerusalem was Teddy.

kollek lupolianski  88 2 (photo credit: )
kollek lupolianski 88 2
(photo credit: )
Thirty days have passed and Jerusalem is in mourning. The capital of Israel had two symbols - the lion and Teddy, and it had always seemed impossible to differentiate between the two: Teddy was Jerusalem and Jerusalem was Teddy. As we prepare for the anniversary celebrations marking 40 years since the unification of the city, Teddy's absence is all the more painful. Teddy was the first mayor of unified Jerusalem. He was instrumental in transforming the city into a unified one not only in name, but especially in the hearts of the people. Teddy symbolized the true unity of Jerusalem - unity among the different sectors of the city, between Jews and Arabs, religious and non-religious, among the various cultural groups, between immigrants and long-term residents - the unity of all Jerusalemites. It was in Teddy's time that the famous Jerusalemite pride of place began to develop - a feeling that though it may not be the biggest city in the country, Jerusalem will always retain its family-like, fraternal quality. But Teddy was not only mayor to hundreds of thousands of Jerusalemites. He was first and foremost mayor of each individual resident and citizen. Even while overseeing vast projects, he never lost sight of the small detail. He was sensitive to the plight of the individual and did his utmost to come to the aid of those in distress, taking a personal interest and doing the maximum to help with problems brought to his attention. Therein lies his greatness. Despite the fact that he was not born in this country, he seemed the typical sabra, sometimes gruff on the outside. But as one got closer one saw the real Teddy - Teddy who was pained by every injustice, who put the needs of the citizen before everything else. And the love was reciprocated. When I wander around Jerusalem, I see Teddy's mark on every street and on every important landmark. The development, the expansion, the renewal projects of Jerusalem were his life's work and mission. Parks, gardens, museums, observation points, streets and avenues, theaters and promenades, stadiums and neighborhoods. All of these were built thanks to his labors. Even if he didn't cut the ribbon on each and every project, he was involved at the foundation level and each landmark will forever remain a living testament to him. During my years as mayor, and well before as a member of the City Council, I was often in need of good advice, of the wisdom of experience, and Teddy was always there for me. When I first joined the City Council many years ago, Teddy patiently and in good spirit answered my questions, helped with whatever problem I was grappling with, giving guidance, direction. He was always available for the good of Jerusalem and to whoever turned to him in the interest of Jerusalem. Teddy is no longer with us, but his spirit will always be part of Jerusalem. His seeds will continue to bear fruit and glorify the name of Jerusalem in Israel and in the diaspora. His spirit will guide us in the city's continued development and in that spirit the city will flourish. Almost as before, his work and vision will continue to lead us in finding the right path to build this city. May his memory be blessed. The writer is the mayor of Jerusalem