(October 20, 2015 / JNS)
By Deborah Fineblum Schabb/JNS.org
The same Rabbi Yehudah Glick who lay near death in the ICU with four bullet wounds in his neck, stomach, and chest was seen dancing with friends and well-wishers Sunday night at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, the same place where the Temple Mount activist was shot by an Arab terrorist exactly a year earlier.
Glick—tour guide, civil rights advocate, public speaker, and a redheaded ringer for Abraham Lincoln—is best known as a man who just won’t quit. Not when it comes to Jews being able to pray on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount (Har HaBayit in Hebrew). He’s been going up there for a quarter of a century, during years when he was allowed to peaceably and, of late, when it means getting heckled and harassed. And sometimes even when it means getting shot.
“The person who tried to kill me that night did it because I represented the connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem,” Glick said.
At Sunday night’s “Survival and Celebration” event, besides those who danced with him, hugged him, and shook his hand, more than 300 supporters and friends gave Glick a standing ovation, including Knesset members Sharren Haskel (Likud), Micky Zohar (Likud), and Shuli Moalem-Rafaeli (Jewish Home).
“The applause goes first and foremost to Hashem,” said Glick. “And my wife Yafi deserves it too.”
Over the past year, besides getting gradually stronger and spending time with his wife, eight children, and five grandchildren, Glick worked through his Temple Mount Heritage Foundation to step up efforts to get Jews—and Christians, too—prayer rights on the Temple Mount. During that time, he also took home the 2015 Moskowitz “Lion of Zion” award, given annually to an outstanding Israeli who lives their personal mission, often endangering their personal safety in the process.
The indefatigable Glick also published a guide book of the Temple Mount titled “Arise and Ascend” and made a film, “A Jerusalem Hug from Heaven,” documenting his 25 years of activism on the Temple Mount, the assassination attempt, and his recovery, including the multiple surgeries needed to repair the damage done by the bullets.
The film was shown several times during the celebration. In it, Glick reflects on the influence of the countless Israelis—religious and secular alike—who came to the hospital to pray for his recovery and support his family. He spares no praise for the medical system that saved his life, from the ambulance crew, to the surgeons at Shaare Zedek Hospital, to the rehabilitation professionals who saw him through the long and painstaking recovery process.
“Statistically he didn’t have a chance, since he was shot several times at close range,” said Dr. Jonathan Halevy, director-general of the hospital. Much of the credit goes to the first responders, he added.
“They are in large part responsible for the fact that Yehudah is standing here today,” Halevy said.
“We can learn from his stubbornness, his unshakable belief in the Jewish people and Jewish destiny,” said Jerusalem resident Hedwa Bregman. “Wherever he goes to speak, he sheds light on the Mount in the context of Jewish history.”
“When God does a miracle, you have to celebrate,” added Glick’s friend Devra Ariel, who lives near the Glick family in a small village near Kiryat Arba. “And in this case the miracle is much more than saving the life of a single person. It’s a vote of confidence by God in what Yehudah is doing when he speaks of the Temple Mount as a place of prayer for all the nations.”
Indeed, Glick argues that members of all faiths have a right to pray there. He said he believes “in the liberty and freedom for Jews and all people to express themselves on Har HaBayit.”
It’s a message that also resonates with many Christians.
“Many of us just don’t understand what the Jewish Temples were all about,” said Tommy Waller, a Christian who “supports the Jewish people and Israel,” and who volunteers on Israeli farms half the year and trains other volunteers for Israel back home in Missouri during the other half.
Waller connected with Glick in Shaare Zedek when he was hospitalized at the same time for an intestinal problem.
“I believe meeting him there was no accident,” Waller said. “I have already learned so much from him.”
“Very often we get together in sorrow to support each other and beg God for help,” Glick told JNS.org as his friends pulled him back onto the dance floor for another round of the hora. “Now we are here thanking him and reminding ourselves that we can’t take anything for granted. Every day is a gift and we have to say, ‘Thank you.’”
So how does he feel a year after his life hung by a thread?
“I’m feeling great,” said Glick, flashing a grin. “Like someone who received his life back as a present.”