I was listening to the radio the day Ed Koch passed away in February, when I heard a recording of the former New York City Mayor answering a reporter’s question about how he would like his epitaph to read.
Tales from Ed Koch’s former chef at Gracie Mansion — from preparing ‘flanken’ to hanging out with Mrs. Begin.
Special To The Jewish Week
Nothing could have prepared me for the moment when I opened the freezer in the basement kitchen of Gracie Mansion in January 1978. Inside was a white paper package of marked “flanken,” neatly identified with a magic marker.
I am writing this from Paris, where I am participating in the mission of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. We are here for five days, and will be moving on for five days of meeting in Israel this coming Sunday.
After City Hall, Koch and wielded influence up and down the East Coast.
In the mid-1970s, William Rapfogel, who was publishing a small Jewish newspaper here, arranged a meeting at a café near Grand Central Station with Edward Koch, then an obscure member of Congress, and one of the representative’s aides.
'We are doing a lot better because you lived and served,' says President Clinton.
Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who died on Friday, was remembered by his current successor, Michael Bloomberg, as a legendary figure akin to Moses, who “restored the arc of the city’s history."
Noting that this week's Torah portion depicts Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt, Bloomberg said " Ed, in his own way, was our Moses ... He led us out of darkness and he gave us hope. And while he may not have parted the Red Sea, he did break a subway strike by standing on a bridge and shouting words of encouragement.”
Ed Koch, New York’s most colorful mayor (1978-89), was always a step ahead of his admirers. When Koch was recovering from a stroke in 1987, Rabbi Arthur Schneier of Park East Synagogue came to see how he’s doin’.
“Say this Hebrew prayer after me,” the rabbi said.
Later came John Cardinal O’Connor. “Ed, if you like, I will pray for you in Hebrew.”
“Reverend,” Koch said, “I took care of the Hebrew. Can you say something in Latin?”