Jean (Gita) Gluck of Forest Hills, NY passed away, leaving behind her husband Eugen Gluck, and children Rosie Friedman, Sidney Gluck, and Barbara Weichselbaum, and dozens of grandchildren.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman, who is close with the Gluck family, mourned the loss saying: “Jean Gluck was living proof of the famous passage from the Book of Psalms, ‘Those who sow in tears will reap in joy.’ From a tragic beginning in the Nazi death camps, Jean rose up with her beloved husband Eugen to build countless Jewish institutions, the most important being her beautiful family. Her strength, courage, and warmth will always inspire those lucky enough to have known her.”
Mrs. Gluck was born in Slatvina in the Czech Republic and sent to Auschwitz under the Nazi regime. She survived the death camp and moved to Antwerp, where she married her husband Eugen. The couple immigrated to New York in 1948.
Mrs. Gluck and her husband were among the earliest American Jewish philanthropists to recognize the urgency and importance of extending the Jewish return to Zion into the recently liberated territories of Judea and Samaria and the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem (also termed the West Bank).
“The fact that there are today over 300,000 Jews in the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem and some 450,000 in Judea and Samaria is due in great part to Mrs. Jean Gluck, of blessed memory, and her husband Eugen, may he continue to live a healthy and happy life,” said Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz, founder of Bet El and a former member of the Israeli Parliament.
Upon meeting Ketzaleh, a young Yom Kippur War hero, in the 1970s, the Glucks adopted the town of Bet El as the primary target of their philanthropy. For 35 consecutive years, the Glucks have sponsored The Bet El Institutions Winter Gala — what has become the largest Zionist dinner in New York — rallying over 10,000 others to support Bet El Institutions and the return to the ancient Jewish towns of Judea and Samaria.
The Glucks’ sponsorship of the Bet El Institutions Winter Gala has contributed to the massive growth of the Bet El Yeshiva Center, one of the leading yeshivas for college age youth in Israel. The yeshiva currently hosts over 350 students, over 100 of whom are married, and many of whom are studying to be rabbis and religious court judges.
The Glucks’ philanthropy did not benefit Bet El alone. Rather, their support fueled Arutz Sheva Israel National Radio Station, founded by Bet El Institutions in the late 1980s, which became the first nationalist voice on Israel’s airwaves. The radio station, along with a robust website in English and Hebrew (IsraelNationalNews.com) and the nationally distributed Hebrew weekly BeSheva, effected the political revolution which returned Israel’s nationalist camp to power, alongside massive construction to cement Israel’s sovereignty in the Judea and Samaria regions.
In 2002, Mrs. Gluck and her husband expanded their support even further by establishing the Gluck IDF Preparatory Academy in Bet El. The Gluck Prep Academy has since served more than 1,000 youth from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds across the country, providing them with a vital year of intensive training prior to their army service.
During their year at the Gluck Academy, these students undergo massive transformations, many of them moving from a life of drugs, crime, and welfare, to enlisting as some of the most dedicated soldiers in combat units, obtaining university degrees, and ultimately becoming well-adjusted and contributing members of Israeli society.
Bet El Founder Ketzaleh summed up Jean Gluck’s life saying, “A Woman of Valor has passed away, a woman who, with her husband, rose from the ashes of Nazi Germany and evolved as the leaders of Diaspora Jewry in strengthening Israel’s Jewish and Zionist education, security, and building of the Land. May her memory be for a blessing.”