Remembering true family leaders - an example for us all

Yaakov Katz, Founder of Bet El institutions, parts from his friends and supporters Eugen and Jean Gluck who passed away one year apart

Yoni Kempinski ,

Ketzaleh with Eugen Gluck
Ketzaleh with Eugen Gluck
Photo: Peter Halmagyi

Yaakov ‘Katzeleh’ Katz, one of the founders of the town of Bet El and the Arutz Sheva – Israel National News media network, described the pivotal role played by American Jewish philanthropists Eugen and Jean Gluck in the re-establishment of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, beginning with Bet El.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Katz recalled how then Minister of Agriculture Ariel Sharon’s enthusiastic endorsement of Katz’s efforts to build Bet El helped forge a decades-long partnership with the Gluck family.

A group of American Jews, including Eugen Gluck, a Romanian-born Holocaust survivor who established the Amitron watch company in the 1950s, met with Katz during a visit to Israel, shortly after the first group of pioneers had moved to Bet El.

“I met Eugen for the first time over 40 years ago. We had then in Bet El seven families…today we have close to 10,000 people in Bet El,” said Katz.

During the meeting, Katz called his wife, asking her to see if Sharon, whom Katz had served under during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, was available to discuss the future of Bet El with the group of American visitors.

“All of a sudden…at three o’clock, Ariel Sharon woke up specially in order to make that phone [call].”

“Each one of [the delegation members] talked with him for ten to fifteen minutes, and he told them many, many stories about me and him, and he told them ‘If you buy Katzeleh’s stock, you’ll be very rich, because he’s going to do good things for Am Yisrael [the Jewish people].”

“When Eugen came back from the phone with Sharon, he said, ‘Katzeleh, it’s done, I’m together with you forever.’”

In a personal aside, Katz also lauded the Gluck’s children and grandchildren for upholding their grandparents’ ideals.

“They built a wonderful, wonderful family. The children… all of them are very idealistic people who are involved in what we are doing here in Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel], in the State of Israel. The children, the grandchildren – each one of them is a flower.”

Gluck “was not only a leader in the building of the Land of Israel, but he also built a beautiful, beautiful family which would be the continuity of the dynasty which they built.”



top