Last week I attended the wedding of MK Yehuda Glick and Hadas Dissin in Jerusalem. And it was a special experience indeed. As the happy couple entered the hall, following a private ceremony, they were cheered and feted by friends and family from every walk of Israeli life.
Rabbi Yehuda Glick is a special man indeed. I have not known him long — just a few years actually. But as our paths have crossed more and more in recent years, I have come to appreciate him as a very special person and a unique advocate for the Jewish people.
Glick was born in the US but came to Israel as a child. He first became known publicly for his advocacy for the Temple Mount. This is where the first and second temples stood in ancient Israel. The second temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and ever since, Jews have prayed and hoped that it would be rebuilt one day. It is considered the holiest spot in Jewish tradition and no matter where we are all over the world, we direct our hearts and our eyes toward the Temple Mount when we pray to G-d, just as Solomon foretold in his dedication prayer (I Kings 8:38) and as Daniel directed his prayers towards Jerusalem (Daniel 6:11).
For centuries the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque have stood on the Temple Mount and Jews have been excluded from the Mount by the local Muslims. Even after the Israeli victory in 1967 and the restoration of the Temple Mount to Jewish hands, Israeli governments have succumbed to Muslim demands and prevented Jews from visiting and praying on Judaism’s holiest site.
Yehuda Glick began advocating for a Jewish presence on the Mount many years ago. But unlike so many who have focused their efforts on rebuilding the Temple or on Jewish rights to prayer, Glick has advocated for universal rights to prayer on that Mount. Even as the Israeli Supreme Court and the Knesset have consistently supported the prohibition of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount in order to placate the Muslims, Yehuda has advocated for the right of every human being, regardless of his faith, to seek G-d and pray on this holy site.
This unique blend of conservative religious dedication and liberal outlook is what has made Glick’s message so vital to the Israeli political scene. But Glick has also suffered and paid a price for his views.
Just over four years ago, a Palestinian terrorist shot Yehuda in the chest at point-blank range just outside the Begin Center in Jerusalem. He nearly died but miraculously survived the attack and within a few months, returned to full activity. But his life was completely changed. He remained a prime target for assassination attempts and ever since has been protected by a security detail.
The Glick family has lived in Otniel for years, a lovely community south of Hebron. In the years following Yehuda’s attack, a number of his friends and neighbors were murdered in or near their homes in Otniel. It was a terrible time. In 2017, Yehuda’s wife of many years suffered a brain injury. She passed away one year ago after spending six months in a coma.
In 2016, Yehuda became a Member of Knesset and from that exalted position, was able to convey his unique and vital messages to the world at large. He quickly recognized the importance of Israel’s Christian friends and made himself available to speak to any Christian group visiting Israel. He was gracious enough to speak to CFOIC Heartland groups in Jerusalem and our group participants were incredibly touched by his message. Over the years, our cooperation grew and most recently Yehuda invited me to address one of the Bible study sessions he hosts in the Knesset.
Just a few weeks ago, Yehuda announced from the Knesset floor that he had found love once more and that he was getting married to a widow, Hadas Dissin. Members of Knesset from left and right erupted in song and applause, and his wedding reflected the joy that so many have felt for this happy occasion. The wedding guests included Jews of all stripes and flavors, Christian visitors from abroad, Israelis of every political persuasion.
And that is perhaps what was so special about the wedding and what has always been so special about Yehuda. He loves people and he loves life. Despite the tragedies that have come his way, he has never let sorrow color his basic joy for life and his love of people. He is a strong advocate for what he believes in — for the right of the Jewish people to settle and control all of the Land of Israel and for the right of all people to pray on the Temple Mount. He loves the Land of Israel is a strong supporter of the settlement movement, and is himself a “settler” in Judea. For years he was painted as an extremist, but as people across the political spectrum got to know him, they could not help but respect him, even as they opposed him.
As Yehuda welcomed his guests, smiling and waving at every one there, greeting them by name and dancing and singing with anyone that was near, we saw the Yehuda that so many have come to love and admire — a person who loves people, who respects differing opinions but fights valiantly for what he knows to be right and true.
As Israel enters election season, it is clear to all of us that we need more Yehuda Glicks. So many politicians care only for their position, their power and their honor. Even when many express ideological positions, they so often sacrifice those values for political expediency. Yehuda Glick is running for a position on the Likud list for Knesset in the primary elections that take place today. I hope he wins a slot that will return him to the next Knesset. And I hope he remains a role model for leaders and politicians everywhere.