Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Ed Koch (Yiedel Itzak), Proud Jewish Mayor of New York, Dies

February 1, 2013 10:10 am 8 comments

Former Mayor Ed Koch. Photo: Ruvi Leider.

Ed Koch, the brash former three-term mayor of New York City who made no secret of his love for Israel and his Jewish faith, has died. He was 88.

Koch passed away at 2 a.m., spokesman George Arzt said. The funeral will be held Monday at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.

Koch was never shy about discussing his Jewish faith, making no secret of his close connection to the religion and culture. He was beloved by New York’s Jewish community for his outspokenness on the matter and for his willingness to be a public advocate for Jewish causes.

Koch wrote often for The Algemeiner,  especially about matters concerning Israel, a country close to his heart, which he supported unequivocally. But his writings weren’t limited to the Jewish state. He also wrote extensively, and frankly, on a wide range of subjects, and was always forthcoming in interviews about even the most personal details concerning his Jewish identity, once disclosing to The Algemeiner his Hebrew name, “Yiedel Itzak.”

Koch’s strong support for Israel wasn’t just a matter of personal faith, but was also based on a recognition of its necessity. “I have also long been cognizant of the fact that every night when I went to sleep in safety, there were Jewish communities around the world in danger. And there was one country, Israel, that would give them sanctuary and would send its soldiers to deliver them from evil, as it did at Entebbe in 1976,” he once wrote in the Jerusalem Post.

Mr. Koch was never reserved in his pronouncements and most recently made waves with his opposition to Chuck Hagel’s possible appointment as secretary of defense.

“It’s not good,” he told The Algemeiner, “but fortunately, Congress, overwhelmingly both Democratic and Republican supports the Jewish state, so I’m sure they will defend it against the defense department when it ruptures the current good relationship which exists.”

As mayor of New York Koch will perhaps be best remembered for steering the city away from bankruptcy and for a five year plan to solve the city’s perpetual housing crunch, launched in 1985, meant to revive its most dilapidated neighborhoods. The plan would become a “ten year plan” and cost $5.1 billion – but it was effective.

Koch leaves no children. He never married, and determinedly left his sexual preference ambiguous.

Koch was well known for the fact that he had already made his tombstone,  a memorial whose centerpiece contained a quote from slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who died on the same day as Koch eleven years ago. It also contained other references to his cultural and religious background, though it wasn’t exactly necessary if the intent was to make his spirituality public, since as he wrote in the Algemiener not too long ago:

“Almost everyone who lives in New York City knows that I am Jewish.  Most know that I am a secular Jew who believes in God, the afterlife, reward and punishment, and that I hope to be rewarded.”

8 Comments

  • I wrote Mayor Koch after his article on Hagel. I mentioned that after looking at one of Hagel’s books, it seemed that he was not anti-Israel… Mayor Koch immediately wrote me that I was mistaken, that there was no question from his record of his anti-Israel bias, which I since came to better appreciate.

    I had another encounter with him when he was Mayor and I was an administrative law judge. In looking back, I can see that just below the surface there was a proud Jew!

    Kol HaKavod!

  • My heart cries because he has left no one to say Kaddish for him.

  • As someone who is also on the Left, a proud Israeli, and a loyal son of the Jewish people…y’he zichro baruch
    יהא זכרו ברוך

  • Despite the fact that Koch was a good Jew, he regularly attended Midnight Masss at St. patrick’s Cathedral.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/339499/ed-koch-rip-fr-gerald-e-murray

    • Why bring this up after his death, is it going to make people think better of him?

    • Mattes Weingast

      As all Mayors should. He was there representing the people of NYC 8 million strong of all backgrounds and faiths. He didn’t accept communion, he didn’t worship there. He is famously known to have said, “I am a Jew in the front pew.”

  • Mark S. Devenow Esq.

    Ed can now ask Hashem how he’s doing and meet with final approval!

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Blogs North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    JNS.org – In 2008, Yoram Honig was a producer and director living in Jerusalem, fresh off his first international hit, when the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) came to him with a challenge: build a film industry from scratch in Israel’s capital. “When we started here, was nothing in Jerusalem,” he said during an interview in his office in the Talbiya neighborhood. Now, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, which Honig heads as an arm of the JDA, pumps 9 million shekels […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Book Reviews Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    JNS.org – “Writing is a messy process,” says author Elizabeth Poliner. “People who don’t write fiction would be surprised to see what early drafts could look like.” But readers wouldn’t know “what a mess it was for the longest time,” as the Jewish author puts it, when reading Poliner’s critically acclaimed latest book, As Close to Us as Breathing. The volume garnered Amazon’s “Best Book” designation in March 2016 as well as rave reviews from the New York Times,W Magazine, NPR, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    The Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, which started on Friday in New York City, features a mini-documentary about an elderly Jewish woman whose journey away from Orthodoxy leads her to taste forbidden food for the first time in her life. In Canadian director Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath, Razie Brownstone talks about ending her lifelong observance of keeping kosher as her 90th birthday approaches. The recently declared atheist said the discovery of the search engine Google spurred a lapse in her Jewish faith and made her decide to […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Food Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    A Chabad rabbi from Rhinebeck, NY, will face off a priest, a pastor and a nun-in-training in an upcoming episode of the Food Network‘s reality show, “Chopped,” Lubavitch.com reported. Rabbi Hanoch Hecht – who teaches up-and-coming chefs about the intricacies of kosher dietary laws at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) — was nominated for the show by a professional chef, and went through a rigorous interview process at the Food Network’s studios in Chelsea, NY. Months later, he was informed he had been accepted as a contestant in the popular TV cooking competition. “I thought […]

    Read more →