Josef Gluck is a young father in Monsey, New York who was attending a Hanukkah party at the home of Rabbi Chaim Leibowitz Rottenberg. The house with filled with people ranging in age from 2 months to 80 years. Over 20 of the rabbi’s grandchildren were in attendance.
Suddenly, a deranged man burst in swinging a large machete. He wore a scarf that covered his face. In a matter of seconds, he stabbed five party guests.
Josef described the scene, “He started hitting people right and left. He came into the dining room; he hit somebody there. He hit somebody in the kitchen and then he came back into the dining room.” The weapon had a big handle and the attacker “just swung it back and forth. Everyone was screaming and panicking and shouting ‘out out out.’ It was chaos.”
Like everybody else, Yosef immediately tried to escape. “I started to run out through a side door, together with people in the dining room.” But when Yosef realized there were still people trapped inside with the attacker, he went back into the house.
He evacuated other party guests, then went back inside to confront the assailant. Josef picked up a coffee table and threw it at the attacker’s head, smashing his face. The enraged assailant came after Josef, who shouted for everyone to move away. Once outside, the man tried to enter the synagogue next door but it was thankfully locked. He got in his car and drove off, but not before Josef noted the license plate number. That information enabled the police to arrest a suspect.
On December 31, 2019, Josef Gluck was honored by Congresswoman Nita Lowey for his bravery and quick response. Congresswoman Lowey said, “Without you, we would never have caught him as quickly as we did. What New York is experiencing can only be called an epidemic. In the past year, anti-Semitic crimes in New York City have increased by 21 percent. The attack here in our backyard was the 13th anti-Semitic crime in the New York City area just last week. We must seek long-term solutions to this age-old problem.
Later, Josef described his thought process to a reporter. “I definitely made a decision. I saw nobody was doing it. Somebody has to do it.”
Josef said he doesn’t consider himself a hero. “I feel like God is the hero. He sent me to the right place in the right time, and he gave me the right set of mind…. In that exact moment, that’s what God gave me… That’s why I reacted.”
“I’m just a simple guy. I don’t know why God gave me the merit to do this. I think I saved a lot of Jewish mothers’ tears.”
Josef is planning to use the table as a stand for his menorah next Chanukah.
As of this writing, one of the victims, age 71, is still hospitalized with a severe head injury and has not regained consciousness. Please pray for Yosef ben Perel’s healing.
For saving countless lives by fending off an armed attacker, we honor Josef Gluck as this week’s Thursday Hero.
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