Israel’s newest Knesset member, Yehuda Glick, is on a mission to bring Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. But he hasn’t won over one person — his own mother.
Unlike her son, Brenda Glick’s husband, Shimon Glick, defers to the mainstream rabbis who see ascension to the Temple Mount as religiously risky because of the possibility that visitors could trample on the holiest spots there. Brenda Glick has followed her husband’s lead on the issue.
“He didn’t ask me not to,” she said of her husband, but she made up her mind not to ascend the Temple Mount.
I interviewed Yehuda Glick’s mother, 83-year-old Brenda Glick, for my recent profile of her son. I was surprised to learn that she had never visited the site that her son risked his life for when he was nearly assassinated by a Palestinian assailant in 2014.
Originally from Cincinnati, Brenda Glick, speaks Hebrew with an American accent. She raised her six children in Flatbush, Brooklyn, before relocating the family to Israel where her husband had been recruited to help open a medical school in Beersheba. A retired teacher, she is a grandmother to 46, and as of mid-June when the youngest was born, a great-grandmother to 66.
When the Glick family first came to Israel, the elder Glicks were activists for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. Yehuda Glick, on the other hand, believes that a two-state solution is unrealistic. You can read more about his proposal to cement Israeli control of the West Bank in my story.
Brenda Glick acknowledges the political contrast within her family. Three of her children, including Yehuda Glick, are settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a place that Brenda Glick said she would be too scared to live. She chalks up the differences to the fact that her children were raised in Israel, where they faced many “tragedies,” while she had an easier childhood in America. Still, she said, they share similar values.
“Are we different? I can’t say that we are. Did we have different life experiences? I can say yes.”
Brenda Glick is less equanimous when it comes to the topic of her son’s risky efforts to bring Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. Israeli police have reportedly singled out Yehuda Glick for fanning the flames on the site. This week, violent clashes erupted again on the Temple Mount when Palestinian men threw rocks at police who were accompanying Jewish visitors in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Jewish visits stoke Muslim fears of a Jewish takeover of the site.
After Yehuda Glick was almost assassinated, his mother wished that he would stop his activism, but knew that she couldn’t prevent his crusade.
“I don’t think it changed him,” she said of the assassination attempt. “I wish it would. I think David Ben Gurion’s mother would have worried about him too and Theodore Herzl’s mother would have worried about him too,” she told me, likening Glick to the Zionist founding fathers. “No mother wants her children in dangerous positions no matter how idealistic they are. From that point of view, I am scared, I am truly worried. What if I were his wife and my husband were doing such a thing? I don’t know if I would back it all the way.”
On the other hand, she told me, “I am proud of his idealism.”
Naomi Zeveloff is the Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.