By Jennifer Maloney
Ed Koch thought about his final resting place, famously worrying that his body might end up somewhere besides Manhattan. He also weighed with great care the inscription on his headstone, which was placed at Manhattan’s Trinity Church Cemetery a few years ago.
The grave marker is inscribed with words spoken by Wall Street Journal reporterDaniel Pearl before he was killed by militants in Pakistan: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”
The former three-term mayor of New York, who died Friday, explained the selection in a 2012 interview with the Journal. “Well, that’s me, too,” he said of Mr. Pearl’s last words.
“I think that statement is as important as the most holy of all statements in Jewish ritual,” Koch said. “I think that every Saturday, we ought to say, ‘My father’s a Jew, my mother was a Jew, and I’m a Jew,’ with great pride.”
The headstone also includes the most familiar Jewish prayer, in English and Hebrew, known as the Shma: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” And this epitaph:
Koch, who described himself as a secular Jew, used his office in City Hall as a bully pulpit to advocate for foreign policies — particularly those supportive of Israel — and continued to do so for decades after he left public office.
In 2011, he helped a Republican congressman get elected in New York as rebuke to the Democratic Party’s stance on Israel. He described anti-Semitism around the world as a serious concern for him.
“There’s so many people who are anti-Semitic today,” he said in the interview. “There are Jews who are uncomfortable announcing that they are Jew… I’m proud of the word ‘Jew.’ And that I am a Jew. And that’s why think we should say it every Saturday.”