Jean and Eugen Gluck
Jean and Eugen Gluck
Jean and Eugen Gluck

One might refer to retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters as a military Renaissance man. The strategic analyst for Fox News has authored 29 books. He is a columnist for the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and many other publications. A Pennsylvania native, the son of a coal miner, Peters is also a passionate supporter of Israel. He states quite proudly that his career success has been colored by Jewish formative influences. “I started reading about Maimonides and other Jewish figures and when I was at Penn State, Jewish teachers took extra time with me–they saw something.”

One thing Peters is certain of is the need to protect Israel. “After the Holocaust, the grimmest and most savage event in history, the survivors, sick and emaciated, struggled their way to Israel and joined the Zionist settlers. They proved that even with sand, with dirt, with fallow earth, they could build a wonderful postmodern state in a matter of decades.”

He said of Israel’s battle for independence, “They were fighting with homemade weapons against tanks and modern arms. There are few David and Goliath stories in history that are so inspiring. Israel is a miraculous success story, and its neighbors share humiliation over watching the Jewish state ascend from a collection of kibbutzim to what it is now.”

Some of these patriots came to the United States and are doing all they can for Israel. There are many who took on this great challenge. All you have to do is look at the lives of Jean and Eugen Gluck. Look at their never-ending devotion to Israel and Bet El. Look at the great roles they and other patriots played in the creation and continued flourishing of Bet El. Ralph Peters talks and writes about such devoted individuals every chance he can.

If there is only one dinner you can go to this year, it should be the 31st annual American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center at the Marriott Marquis, December 8. There you will witness, firsthand, the brilliant words of Ralph Peters concerning Israel, the entire Middle East, and the important role of the United States. You will also rejoice with the all the supporters of this wonderful place called Bet El.

With all the news being dominated by Arab propaganda about “Israeli occupation” and “settlements” impeding the “peace process,” here is the true story of what is taking place in Biblical Judea and Samaria. Here there are Jewish communities who are doing nothing but bringing light and warmth to the world, promoting social justice and compassionate values that we can all learn from.

Bet El’s extraordinary story began 4,000 years ago, when the patriarch Abraham established it as a camp along his divinely inspired trek through the land of Canaan. Two generations later, Bet El became the site of Jacob’s famous dream and dramatic wrestling match with an angel–the site where the name “Israel” was coined.

Beth El has transformed from a tiny community of eight families in 1977 to a vibrant Jewish center, which now houses an ethnically diverse Jewish population of 1,300 families. Bet El is home to the world-renowned Bet El Yeshiva Center, which provides a comprehensive education to students from preschool through post-college. Their graduates have become the leading teachers in yeshivas and high schools across Israel, bringing the spirit of Torah to all.

The Raaya Girls High School Academy is celebrated as one of the premier learning centers in all of Israel and can’t accommodate all the girls who want to attend.

The National Media Network–Arutz Sheva–with parallel websites in Hebrew, English, and Russian brings a message of optimism and hope to supporters of Israel worldwide. It is a major force in the media today combating the delegitimatization of the State of Israel. BeSheva is the third largest newspaper by circulation in all of Israel, with engaging articles that focus on accomplishments of outstanding individuals and institutions throughout Israel. It encourages all Israelis to be better citizens.

The People of Bet El are also blazing a trail for the military struggle for the defense of the land and people of Israel. The mission of the Israeli Defense Forces Gluck Preparatory Academy is to strengthen the adolescent spirit and character before young adults enter the Israeli army. There are hundreds of students who changed their lives for the better at Bet El and went on to serve Israel filled with spiritual strength, and with a desire to serve in elite units and as officers.

How was this spiritual oasis created? What makes it thrive? We have to go back over 30 years ago when Yom Kippur War hero and Knesset Member Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz, along with a few families and yeshiva students, had a vision of what Bet El could be. With three decades of tireless help from Jean and Eugen Gluck and the American Friends of Bet El, the town is now a vibrant center of Jewish life that nurtures all of Israel in a way that no other center of learning matches. Because Bet El is not just a learning center, it is a way of life.

The story of Bet El is the story of the heart of Israel. It is where Avraham first proclaimed the Oneness of G-d, and it is where Avraham’s children now nurture the passion of Israeli life. When you look at the people of Bet El today, you see in spirit the people of 4,000 years ago and all the generations in between, with the glow of G-d around them. You see people smiling with the knowledge of the meaning of their existence: to help one another, to further the teachings of Torah, to help Israel live, and to be the foundation of Jewish life in the entire world. The establishment and flourishing of this community is a tremendous accomplishment for the entire Jewish people. All who support Israel should support the heart of Israel–Bet El.

On December 8, at the Marriott Marquis Ballroom in Manhattan, American Friends of Bet El will honor the residents and supporters of the northern Samarian town who have toiled selflessly for the survival and growth of their community and the State of Israel. Now in its 31st year, the American Friends of Bet El dinner has become one of New York City’s largest and most prestigious Jewish events, with last year’s dinner attracting an astounding 1,500 attendees.

The American Friends of Bet El will honor these deserving supporters:

Shomer Yisrael Honorees: Barbara and David Bortniker

Aishet Chayil Honoree: Sylvia Freyer

Shomer Bet El Honorees: Rachel and Joshua Goldsmith

Young Leadership Honorees: Aliza and Elchanan Romanoff

The event will begin with a 5:00 p.m. with a smorgasbord, leading into dinner at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $500 per couple. To make your reservation, call 718-482-4134 or 718-268-8291.

Bet El today is living up to its legacy established thousands of years ago–a Divine home, where G-dly lives are being built and are flourishing. Just as Yaakov wrestled and prevailed over Eisav’s archangel over three millennia ago, Beth El today serves as a reminder of Jewish pride and perseverance–prevailing over all our current enemies.

Israel will survive, prosper, and grow because of the brave souls who inhabit it and its friends and supporters all over the world who will never turn their backs on it. A key reason that Israel will be all these things is there is a place called Bet El.

Come join building Bet El today, and continue the tradition established by Avraham and Yaakov over 35 centuries ago. v


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