Teddy Kollek award honors capital’s benefactors

The recipients are the Azrieli Foundation recognized for its dedication to education and beautification of public spaces in the capital.

Teddy Kollek awards 311 (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Teddy Kollek awards 311
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
The annual Teddy Kollek award ceremony took on greater significance this year because it coincided with the week of the 100th anniversary of his birth and was presented between the Jewish and Gregorian calendar dates of the 44th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
The award was instituted by the Jerusalem Foundation in January 1999, exactly eight years before the death of legendary Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek.
The recipients were the Azrieli Foundation, which operates in Israel and Canada, and was recognized for its dedication to education and beautification of public spaces in the capital; Aleksander Gudzowaty of Poland, in recognition of his commitment to interfaith tolerance and coexistence in the city; Fred Worms, now of Israel and formerly of the United Kingdom, for his continued support of numerous educational and cultural institutions in the capital; and James S. Snyder, the American- born director of the Israel Museum, for his vision and magnificent renovation of the museum.
Hosted by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Jerusalem Foundation President Ruth Cheshin, the ceremony was held at the Knesset in the presence of Kollek’s wife, Tamar, his daughter, Osnat, and his son, Amos, as well as those who had worked with Kollek in the Jerusalem Municipality he led from 1965 to 1993, in the Jerusalem Foundation he founded in 1966, and in the Israel Museum he presided over from 1965 to 1996.
Before the official proceedings, the crowd seated in the Knesset auditorium was shown a documentary on Kollek’s life, from boyhood until just before his passing. In the film, Ed Koch, then-mayor of New York, said during a visit to Jerusalem that there was no dispute over the fact that Kollek was “mayor of all mayors.”
Accepting the compliment, Kollek quipped at Koch’s expense: “He can’t raise money here, but I can raise money there.”
There was almost nothing that Kollek would not do for the promotion and development of Jerusalem.
In one scene in the film, he is asked to name a successor, and replies that it might be the messiah. In the next scene, Kollek is filmed riding on the proverbial white donkey of the messiah.
Rivlin, who served under Kollek on the Jerusalem City Council before making the transition from local to national politics, described Kollek as the greatest builder of his generation, and the greatest builder of all time since King Herod.
Kollek not only built Jerusalem, Rivlin said, he transformed it from a divided to a united city with equal rights for all. The evidence of this, Rivlin observed, was in the huge number of votes that Kollek received from the Arab community.
Quoting Kollek, he said: “If you want a united Jerusalem, you have to unite in such a way as to make all its residents happy.”
Mayor Nir Barkat said he had been very moved by seeing the film about Kollek, because it so vividly demonstrated his leadership, his vision, and his ability to get things done.
“He had an in-depth understanding of challenges and opportunities, and he knew how to get people to become part of his vision for the city,” Barkat said.
Cheshin, who has been president of the Jerusalem Foundation ever since Kollek established it 44 years ago, said that it was hard to imagine the energetic and eternally youthful Kollek as being 100.
Aside from being an amazing achiever, she said, Kollek was always available to anyone, regardless of his or her position in society.
His attitude to a pauper was no different than to a millionaire.
A keen observer of detail, Kollek saw the general picture but he also saw the individual tree in the forest both literally and figuratively, said Cheshin.
He was always in a hurry to get things done and he was impatient – but there was no one like him. Without Kollek’s initiative and drive, she said, it would have taken much longer for the Israel Museum to have been built.
Speaking briefly of the Jerusalem Foundation, Cheshin said that it was not only a vehicle for the funding and development of the city, but also a means of enabling lovers of Jerusalem to express that love by participating in the development of a modern, pluralistic and tolerant city.
Shopping mall pioneer David Azrieli was unable to come to Jerusalem to receive his award, which was accepted on his behalf by his daughters Naomi, Dana and Sharon. They spoke of his and their commitment to Jerusalem, and the excitement he felt 25 years ago, when his plan for building the Jerusalem Mall in Malha was approved.
Declaring his love for the city, Gudzowaty said it had admirers all over the world and had a great potential for teaching tolerance and peaceful coexistence to everyone. Lamenting the fact that Jerusalem is beset by daily conflicts, he insisted that this must change.
Worms and his wife, Della, have been coming to Jerusalem on a regular basis for 50 years. Two years ago they finally became permanent residents of the city.
Worms had a very close relationship with Kollek. “It was a give and take relationship,” he said. “I gave. Teddy took. He made you feel it was a privilege for you to give and for him to take.”
Worms noted the level of cooperation between the Jerusalem Foundation and the Jerusalem Municipality, and said that this pleased him greatly because it was not always like that.
Recalling when Snyder and his wife, Tina, first met Kollek in 1996, they knew very little about Jerusalem or Israel, they quickly learned about Kollek’s vision for the museum, he said. It had been a sheer pleasure to extend that vision, Snyder said, and to be part of Kollek’s centenary celebration “could not mean more to me.”
Snyder insisted that the award be shared with his colleagues at the museum, the staff, the workers involved in the renovation and the museum board. He also paid tribute to his wife for her unflagging support.
“What I have accomplished could not be done without them,” he said.