Shlomo Lahat, ex-Tel Aviv mayor, buried in city he led


(JTA) — Hundreds of people, including several ministers and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, attended the funeral of former Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat.

Lahat was buried Friday in Tel Aviv’s Trumpeldor Cemetery, the news site reported. He died Wednesday at 86.

“You need a person that never stops to make a city that never stops, and I loved him,” Israel’s finance minister, Yair Lapid, said at the funeral.

Lahat, who was born in Berlin and immigrated to prestate Israel in 1933, is widely credited for describing the coastal city as “a city that never stops” – a tagline that for many Israelis is still synonymous with Tel Aviv today.

Lahat, a reserves major general in the Israel Defense Forces, served as mayor for 19 years until 1993. He led extensive renovations and restoration projects in the city, facilitated the opening of businesses on Shabbat and directed generous funding for the city’s art scene.

“He turned Tel Aviv from a dormant city into a lively, zesty one,” Isaac Herzog, chairman of Israel’s Labor party and the head of the opposition, said in his eulogy for Lahat.

Lahat, who was also known by the nickname Cheech, was a member of the Likud party but advocated for territorial concessions under Labor Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish extremist in 1995 in Tel Aviv at a peace rally that Lahat helped organize.

In 2000, he wrote an open letter to the late Rabin that was published on Ynet, in which he said he blamed himself for Rabin’s death. Rabin, Lahat wrote, did not want to attend the rally but Lahat pushed him to agree.

“Your friends and family tell me I am not to blame, but I feel guilty and I don’t forgive myself and never will because what happened here was my responsibility,” Lahat wrote.

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