Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ed Koch's Tombstone!

A larger-than-life Ed Koch arranged it so that even in death he’d remain a New Yorker.
Five years ago, the former mayor, then 83, paid $20,000 for a plot in the nondenominational cemetery of Trinity Church in Washington Heights — the only active graveyard in Manhattan that was still accepting new burials.
“I don’t want to leave Manhattan, even when I’m gone,’’ he told The Associated Press. “This is my home. The thought of having to go to New Jersey was so distressing to me.’’
Koch consulted with rabbis to make sure that resting in peace in a non-Jewish cemetery was “doable,’’ he told the Times.
With the approval of the cemetery, the gate just north of the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 153rd Street near Koch’s plot reads, “The Jewish Gate.’’
Not stopping there, the mayor chose his own tombstone, and had inscriptions carved into the stone that proudly honor his Jewish heritage, proclaim his love of his city and its people and his country, and honor the slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
On the headstone, which bears the Star of David, Koch inscribed the moving last words Pearl spoke before he was publicly murdered in Pakistan 11 years ago: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.’’
In an interview with the Journal last year, Koch said that he believed “that statement is as important as the most holy of all statements in Jewish ritual.’’
The former mayor also inscribed the most important Jewish declaration of faith, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.’’
And Koch also wrote his own epitaph to make sure people knew how he’d like to be remembered:
“He was fiercely proud of his Jewish faith. He fiercely defended the city of New York, and he fiercely loved its people. Above all, he loved his country, the United States of America, in whose armed forces he served in World War II.’’
In typical Koch style, he had the tombstone installed in 2009.
“I think he wanted to be prepared,” his spokesman George Arzt said yesterday. He said the former mayor also “mapped out” his funeral arrangements.
At Monday’s services at Temple Emanu-El on East 65th Street at Fifth Avenue, “there will be three flags: the United States, Israel and New York City,’’ Arzt said.
The planned speakers include Mayor Bloomberg and three of Koch’s longtime friends, lawyer James Gill, John LoCicero and Diane Coffey, who was Koch’s chief of staff at City Hall.
Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni and a representative of President Obama may also speak.

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