Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



The Voice at the Other End

Yisroel Besser

For too many kids today, the scourge of abuse leads to harmful behaviors like drug addiction and worse. Zvi Gluck is the man at the crossroads

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Image

NEVER TOO LATE Zvi Gluck, at the crossroads of the chareidi netherworld: “I learned that it’s never too late to try”

Zvi Gluck drops the statistic with the detached air of a clerk doing inventory. “Seventy-five, since Rosh Hashanah,” he says flatly. 

If you look closely, you can catch the cloud that crosses his face and shows you that inside, he’s shaking. He might have the eager look of a helpful neighbor — Can I carry your bags for you? Push your car out of the snow? — but the help he offers is really a different sort. He is the ghost, the figure moving among the shadows of the Orthodox netherworld, offering not just a listening ear, but a path to recovery. The things no one will touch — drug abuse, molestation, suicide prevention — are his nine-to-five job. Five-to-nine, too.

At the head of the table, his father heaves a sigh.

“Have a piece of cake,” the elder Rabbi Gluck says, moving a tray toward his son.

“I can’t, my diet,” Zvi protests.

“Ha, what diet?” the father quips.

“Thanks, Tatty,” Zvi says, your typical heimeshe father-son banter.

“Seventy-five deaths in our community since Rosh Hashanah,” Zvi says again, giving in to the cake. “We keep count — some suicides, some of them overdosed… Each one had a death sentence that might have been avoided had someone intervened.”

Drama has always been dinner-table conversation in the Gluck home. When other families along the Boro Park block were discussing the parshah or weather, the Glucks were talking about posting bail, avoiding autopsy, and placing a kid in the right rehabilitation facility. 


In a Good Way

It’s hard to imagine it today, when we have “message control” professionals managing PR emergencies and crisis counselors in sleek offices on call 24/7, but once upon a time, there was just Rabbi Chaim Boruch (Edgar) Gluck.

Familiar to the power brokers at Gracie Mansion, respected in Albany, well-known in Washington, Edgar Gluck used his Rolodex to great effect. The large pockets in his vest — a telltale bulge caused by the then-novel beeper beneath — were stuffed with secrets. Well-spoken, astute, but most of all connected, Rabbi Gluck brought messages from the backrooms of chassidic courts and yeshivos to the Irish cops at the precinct. He posted bail and arranged for kosher food in prison, he prevented autopsies and expedited burial. Like an Olympic skier sliding between the orange cones, Edgar Gluck danced around red tape. 

MY FATHER, MY TEACHER Rabbi Chaim Boruch Gluck says he had “insurance” that Zvi would give him nachas

Reb Chaim Boruch Gluck learned how to play the game on the rough streets of the Bronx. His foray into askanus came when one of the local Jews opened his store on Shabbos, just under Rav Moshe Bick’s shul. The child stood on a soapbox, urging passersby and would-be customers to return after Shabbos. Later, as a talmid in Beis Medrash Elyon, he was tapped by the roshei yeshivah as a kind of ambassador, working with local politicians on behalf of the nascent Monsey community.

Efficiency and a creative approach to bureaucratic hurdles saw the teenager become a formal chaplain, the liaison to the Jewish community. Soon, he was the address for politicians and officials seeking the Jewish vote, the trusted confidant to rebbes and leaders seeking the right candidate.

His son, Zvi, shares the same sense of mission, but while the father has the face of a secret-keeper — windswept, worn, a mysterious half-smile its default setting — the son is still learning to hide his emotions.

“My father,” Zvi explains, “was a yasom, orphaned of his mother at a young age. So he had something to prove, you know? I always tell children in pain, ‘Show me a resilient adult and I’ll show you a child who suffered.’ Not all of them grow from their challenges, but my father did. He’s tough.”

He pauses for a second. “In a good way.”

eb Chaim Boruch Gluck learned how to play the game on the rough streets of the Bronx. His foray into askanus came when one of the local Jews opened his store on Shabbos, just under Rav Moshe Bick’s shul. The child stood on a soapbox, urging passersby and would-be customers to return after Shabbos. Later, as a talmid in Beis Medrash Elyon, he was tapped by the roshei yeshivah as a kind of ambassador, working with local politicians on behalf of the nascent Monsey community. Efficiency and a creative approach to bureaucratic hurdles saw the teenager become a formal chaplain, the liaison to the Jewish community. Soon, he was the address for politicians and officials seeking the Jewish vote, the trusted confidant to rebbes and leaders seeking the right candidate. His son, Zvi, shares the same sense of mission, but while the father has the face of a secret-keeper — windswept, worn, a mysterious half-smile its default setting — the son is still learning to hide his emotions. “My father,” Zvi explains, “was a yasom, orphaned of his mother at a young age. So he had something to prove, you know? I always tell children in pain, ‘Show me a resilient adult and I’ll show you a child who suffered.’ Not all of them grow from their challenges, but my father did. He’s tough.” He pauses for a second. “In a good way.”

Related Stories

Healer of a Broken People

Menachem Pines

On Rav Zalman Sorotzkin zt”l’s 50th yahrtzeit, Mishpacha opens a treasure trove of personal writings...

Behind the Mike

Barbara Bensoussan

Don’t let Yitzchok Saftlas’s nice-guy appearance fool you. The marketing guru has parlayed his inter...

Double Brachah

Brachi Zeivald

Twin brothers born 20 minutes apart, married twin sisters born 20 minutes apart — and had daughters,...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"