In America, those that came back from Europe after having fought Hitler are known as “the Greatest Generation.” In Jewish religious circles, there is another group of people with this title. They are the Jews that came to the United States after having lost everything in the holocaust. They lost family, homes, all their belongings, and all their money.
They arrived on America’s shores without a penny to their names, and without speaking a word of English. Slowly, they got jobs. They built businesses. They became successful, and they made sure that Torah and Jewish institutions would not only get built – but would thrive.
This was the story of Mr. Eugene Gluck, a remarkable philanthropist, who has just passed away. He arrived penniless and started to work in a bakery. Eventually, he founded teeh Armitron Watch Company in 1956. He quickly took advantage of the new digital watch technology that was emerging and created a niche in that market.
Mr. Gluck, helped build the Young Israel of Forest Hills, many local Yeshivos, Hatzalah, but most of all – he helped build the West Bank. He was a major donor to Shaarei Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, the Magen David Adom emergency ambulances, and Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.
After the 1967 war, Mr. Gluck was elated that the Torah cities mentioned in Chumash were now once again in Jewish hands. He soon forged a partnership with war hero and MK Yaakov Katz, also known as Ketzeleh, and together they built many Torah institutions in Bet El. They built yeshivos, girls high schools, Yeshiva Ketanahs, pre-military academies where near off-the derech young men found purpose and meaning in both learning Torah and defending eretz Yisroel.
Mr. Gluck was instrumental in creating the reality that is modern Bet El – the place where Yaakov Avinu had his encounter with the angels themselves. Recently, Mr. Gluck had lost his beloved wife, who was his right hand in his philanthropy.
Each year, the Bet El Dinner has hosted remarkable speakers and honorees. Speakers have included Bibi Netanyahu, numerous members of Knesset and Israeli politicians and Americans as well. Rabbi Boruch Gordon, Betty Sebrow, and others help coordinate it each year to make the Bet El Dinner a smashing success.
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