Arie Gluck

Support our efforts to honor Arie Gluck as part of Harlam@60 here.

By Rabbi Richard Address

Our story began in August of 1966. I drove to Harlam to see the friends I had made from the previous three summers working at Camp Harlam under then director, Menchie Goldblatt. Having just finished a summer intensive at the Hebrew Union College prior to the beginning of the formal semester, I wanted to meet the “new guy,” as my friends had described, to put my bid in to return to camp staff in 1967. They did mention that the “new guy” was just a little different! We met that August day and, to make a long story short, that meeting evolved into a relationship, both professional and personal, that lasted for decades.

Arie, Elaine, Roni, Ruth, and Gil became part of my life and the life of my family. They allowed me the privilege of being, in many ways, a family rabbi as I had the honor of officiating at Gluck family functions, from weddings to funerals.  Our relationship reached a new and more profound level in 1978 when I returned to Philadelphia to become Regional Director for the Reform Movement at the URJ. In that capacity, Arie and I shared an office, a staff, challenges, and concerns that, in many ways, went far beyond camp. It was in those years that I learned just how passionate and dedicated on so many levels he was. It was in those years, over countless meetings, social dinners with our families, racquetball games on weekends when we were not traveling (yes, he always beat me) and too-many-to-count off-the-cuff conversations and lunches during the work day that I learned that Arie was a man of great depth and caring.

Arie had many passions. As I reflected on them, I knew that three were of paramount importance and helped shape his spiritual foundation. Israel, of course, was of great concern. He had helped win independence; he knew the founders and was deeply committed to Israel’s existence, survival and stability. He was not afraid to cast a critical eye and was proud to be able to teach about his beloved country, whether it was during a session at camp for campers or staff, at a congregation (which he often was called upon to do), or when asked to facilitate a session at a regional meeting. He was an engaging teacher.

Camp Harlam became like a life force that flowed through his veins. He advocated for the camp in many ways at URJ meetings. His stewardship allowed the camp to flourish and grow in ways no one could have anticipated. He pioneered the idea of taking Harlam campers on trips. I recall, during the 1968-69 year when I was in a student pulpit in London, England, having my congregation host Arie and the Harlamites as they traveled. Sitting in the Chapel in the Woods that is now dedicated in his honor, his spirit and soul remain. The seeds that were planted during his tenure continue to bear fruit. So many of those people who were with us in that first generation of Harlam’s life now proudly boast that their third generation is enrolled. I am proud to say that is so for my own family. They stand on the shoulders of much of what was created by Arie, a foundation built on faith, creativity, fiscal responsibility, and an inclusive and expansive approach to the camping experience. Aaron Selkow, Lisa David, and their team continue that tradition and do so proudly.

However, I learned that the number one passion of my friend and colleague was family. In our private moments, we often discussed his pride in Roni, Ruth, and Gil. We shared their journeys, the challenges, and accomplishments, as well as, sadly, those times that brought sadness. As Paul and Jodi joined the circle, as did Roni, Ruth and Gil’s own children, Arie’s love and pride expanded as well. With him for so many years, was Elaine. As one looks around camp, we veterans of past generations cannot help but recall the times that she brought grace and a sense of reality to Arie and to situations. Friday evenings after lights out at Arie and Elaine’s house was, to many staff, a highlight; often a non-stop feast of snacks and bantering that, when fully understood, revealed a deeply personal and committed relationship.

Now, so much has changed. Yet, in many ways, things remain. This camp continues to create Jewish memories and enhance Jewish identity in ways that no organization or synagogue can do. A new generation of Camp Harlam is now here. Arie would be proud. I like to think that in some way, he and Elaine and Gil are still present; smiling and happy that this most sacred place continues to thrive.

May Arie and his family continue to be a source of pride and inspiration for generations of campers.

Arie Gluck was URJ Camp Harlam’s Director from 1965 until his retirement in 2002. During those years, Harlam thrived and Arie established himself as a true leader in the field. As part of the Harlam@60 effort, the camp’s Chapel in the Woods was dedicated in Arie’s honor during the Harlam@60 Anniversary Weekend celebration on August 24-26, 2018. These words were shared with the community by Rabbi Address’ daughter, Liz Address Grumbacher.

Support our efforts to honor Arie Gluck as part of Harlam@60 here.