Haunting Words At Koch’s Grave

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

The former New York mayor visits his own gravestone in the documentary "Koch." (Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films)

The former New York mayor visits his own gravestone in the documentary “Koch.” (Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films)

The former New York mayor died the same day as Daniel Pearl, the murdered Jewish journalist he quoted on his tombstone.

“I’m not afraid of death,” said Ed Koch, the former New York mayor who died Friday at the age of 88. “I believe in God. I believe in the afterlife. I believe in reward and punishment . . . and I expect to be rewarded.

“But you have to be prepared.”

He was. As revealed in “Koch,” the documentary opening Friday in New York, the savvy politician did not want to leave the writing of his epitaph to anyone else. So he took care of it himself in advance.

In the film, Koch visits his own grave with Diane Mulcahy Coffey, his chief of staff. On the way to Manhattan’s Trinity Church Cemetery, the proudly Jewish mayor explains why he chose the Protestant burial ground as his final resting place.

With help from rabbis, he had visited old Jewish cemeteries in Manhattan, but they weren’t to his liking (and Koch had no intention of ever leaving Manhattan — even in death).

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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