Israelis You Should Know: Teddy Kollek | IFCJ
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Israelis You Should Know: Teddy Kollek

Mayor Teddy Kollek speaking at Jerusalem Day memorial ceremony in 1974 to honor those lost during Six-Day War (Photo: GPO/SAAR YAACOV)

Lived: May 27, 1911 - January 7, 2007

Known for: Serving as Jerusalem’s mayor from 1965 to 1993

Helped found and/or revitalize: The Israel MuseumJerusalem TheaterJerusalem Foundation, and Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

Things named in honor of Teddy: An elephant, a sculpture garden, and a stadium

Why you should know him: Born in Budapest and raised in Vienna, Kolleck was a Zionist by the age of 11. He moved to what is now Israel in 1934, and served Jewish interests in Europe during World War II and in the years immediately following.

In 1965, Kolleck was elected mayor of Jerusalem for the first time, and was re-elected in 1969, 1973, 1978, 1983, and 1989. During his 28-year tenure, Kolleck advanced Jerusalem municipally, geographically, and culturally, and is known for his efforts to build bridges between Jerusalem’s diverse population, especially after Jerusalem’s reunification in 1967.

Kolleck is also heralded for transforming Jerusalem into a modern city, by founding the Israel Museum and the Jerusalem Theater, overseeing the rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City and the restoration of many historical landmarks, and establishing the Jerusalem Foundation to keep these cultural and development projects going. For these and other efforts, some referred to him as “the greatest builder of Jerusalem since Herod.”

In his own words: “For three thousand years, Jerusalem has been the center of Jewish hope and longing. No other city has played such a dominant role in the history, culture, religion, and consciousness of a people as has Jerusalem in the life of Jewry and Judaism. Throughout centuries of exile, Jerusalem remained alive in the hearts of Jews everywhere as the focal point of Jewish history, the symbol of ancient glory, spiritual fulfillment, and modern renewal. This heart and soul of the Jewish people engenders the thought that if you want one simple word to symbolize all of Jewish history, that word would be ‘Jerusalem.’”

Tags: Life in Israel

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Landscape photo of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock in the foreground.

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