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Israel Buries Legendary Former Mayor of Jerusalem


Teddy Kollek, a former Jerusalem mayor, who led one of the world's most complicated cities for nearly three decades, has been laid to rest after his death this week at the age of 95. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, Kollek carved a modern metropolis out of a jumble of colorful neighborhoods inhabited by Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

The cantor sang a mournful prayer, as Israel bade farewell to the legendary Teddy Kollek, who served as mayor of Jerusalem for 28 years. He was buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, alongside the founding fathers of the State of Israel.

Kollek was eulogized by Allan Freeman of the Jerusalem Foundation, who worked alongside the mayor for many years.

"He cared, not just cared, but cared extraordinarily deeply about the city," he said. "And, for him, Jerusalem was everything. And he cared about the person in the street, but he also cared about art and culture, the greening of the city."

In a city famed for its disputes, Kollek maintained a delicate status quo. He promoted coexistence between Israelis and Arabs, kept the peace between religious and secular Jews, and sought to improve ties between Israel and the Christian community.

Chaim Varshovsky was among the Jerusalem residents paying their last respects.

"He just had a very special touch. He loved people, he loved the people of the city," Varshovsky said. "He had an amazing ability to get up early in the morning, and go around the city, in order to improve the quality of life for everyone, Arabs, Jews and Christians."

At the same time, Kollek supported Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, including the sacred Old City claimed by the Palestinians.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Jerusalem will remain united," he said.

Kollek was known for his modesty and accessibility. He walked the streets without a bodyguard, and his home number was listed in the phone book.

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