Jerusalem today is mourning one of the greatest leaders who shaped its destiny and rekindled its flame. Teddy Kollek was a giant of man, unique in his generation; a man who literally put Jerusalem above all other concerns and gave it the international visibility and status it had lacked for so many generations. Fondly called Teddy by everyone, Kollek's life became closely identified with and singularly focused on Jerusalem's fate, dedicating his unbridled energies, creativity and great imagination to extending its borders, expanding its beauty and improving the conditions of life for all its citizens - Jews and Arabs, religious and secular alike.
The 'Post' pays tribute to Teddy Kollek
His unique universe combined the visionary with the pragmatic, turning a well-thought-out strategy into a carefully crafted plan of action.
Thus his vision of the character and the importance of Jerusalem - universal in its religious context, particular as the soul of the Jewish people - guided all his actions. Under his leadership, Jerusalem became an open city to all religions, a magnet to all believers. He helped refurbish and build houses of worship for Jews, Christians and Moslems.
From a forlorn city before 1967, Teddy - on whom the task of reuniting Jerusalem fell - turned the city into a real capital.
He knew that the geographical or physical boundaries of a city do not necessarily turn it into a capital, so he invested heavily in endowing it with prestigious cultural institutions. He wanted to attract young people to the city, and so he worked diligently at attracting business and high-tech industries.
Many of us recall Teddy Kollek touring the streets of Jerusalem in the early morning hours, checking if they were clean enough. And it is with unlimited pride that he would show his guests the latest clinic or garden that he had helped build.
Honest, straightforward, direct in his speech, he approached the worker and the head of state with the same language and with the same message: "What have you done for Jerusalem today?" And indeed, rarely could a visitor pass the threshold of his office without contributing funds for the city.
With Teddy Kollek's passing, we have lost not only the greatest builder this city has had since the times of Herod; we have lost a man of great political wisdom. He knew how to navigate the stormy seas of international politics, and notwithstanding Jerusalem's lack of recognition as a capital, he managed to consolidate and strengthen its position.
The strength and determination of an Israeli, combined with the good taste and European traditions of a Viennese Jew - all these turned Teddy into one of the best and brightest leaders that this country has ever produced.
We sorely miss him.