All Mourn the Loss of Ed Koch

Update: Koch’s funeral was held yesterday (Monday). Speakers included:

  • Former President Bill Clinton,
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and
  • Israeli Consul-General Ido Aharoni

See video on the right.

In an official statement, President Barack Obama mourned the loss of Koch, who died Feb. 1 at the age of 88:

Ed Koch was an extraordinary Mayor, irrepressible character, and quintessential New Yorker. He took office at a time when New York was in fiscal crisis, and helped his city achieve economic renewal, expand affordable housing, and extend opportunity to more of its people. In public office and beyond, his energy, force of personality, and commitment to causes ranging from civic issues to the security of the state of Israel always informed and enlivened the public discourse. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Ed’s loved ones, and to the city that survives him.

Jewish organizations’ response after the jump.
Many Jewish organizations have also expressed their sorrow:

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) is deeply saddened by the news that former Representative and New York City Mayor Ed Koch (D-NY) has passed away. Koch was a consummate and proud Jewish Democrat who advocated fiercely for the U.S.-Israel relationship and the progressive domestic policies in which he truly believed. Koch’s leadership was vital in mobilizing Jewish voters in the 2008 and 2012 elections, and our community will not be the same without his prominent voice. Koch leaves behind an indelible legacy of public service and activism that has made our country a better place and strengthened America’s relationship with the Jewish State. His voice and his energy will truly be missed.

The Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said:

Mayor Koch was a passionate and principled leader and an outspoken defender of Israel and the Jewish community. He chose principle over politics and didn’t engage in partisan bitterness. In a long and controversial public career, he remained true to his commitment to do what was right for his constituents, his community, and his beloved State of Israel. The RJC was honored to work with Mayor Koch over the years. He was a patriot and we will miss him.

Bnai Brith International has released this statement:

Known for his plainspoken nature and charisma, Koch was mayor of New York City during a particularly troubled time and became the face of New York around the world.

During three terms as mayor, serving from 1978-1989, Koch connected with New Yorkers of every background. His eager query to New Yorkers, “How’m I doing?” became his signature.

Before his storied tenure as mayor, Koch served in the U.S. Congress from 1969-1977.

His forthright support for Israel, and his great pride in his Jewish faith, were always part of his persona.

So connected to New York that he insisted on being buried there, five years ago, he purchased a burial plot at Trinity Church Cemetery, the only cemetery in the city that had space. He even ordered and inscribed his tombstone, which features the final words said by Daniel Pearl, the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”

Sandra Kahn, co-founder of Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union), said:

Ed Koch played a massive role for the Jewish community of New York. Outside of him being a great Mayor for the city, he also played an influential role in bringing Russian Jewish immigrants to New York during the Russian waves of immigration. He was always open and understanding to all cultures in New York and was very welcoming to the Russian Jewish community, a community that contributed to the cultural mosaic of the city. The Jewish community is forever indebted to Mayor Koch.

The Russian-American Jewish community will honor the life of Koch at the annual Limmud FSU Summit in Princeton, NJ on March 15-17. He will be remembered at a special ceremony during the Summit, where his family will be invited to participate.