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Gabriel Glazer 1931-2018

Gabe Glazer was born in Montreal in 1931. His dad was a taxi driver and his mom ran their family store. In elementary school he was one of the only Jewish students. When he was in high school, the family moved to the Outremont district, where for the first time he had Jewish classmates and friends. This was also when he was introduced to the world of Zionism and Secular Judaism. This was around 1948 and the formation of the state.

He then went to McGill University in Montreal, and while studying for his B.A., formed a Zionist group on campus together with other students, against the wishes of the McGill Hillel group. In 1953 he was appointed head of IZFA – Intercollegiate Zionist Federation of America – for a one-year term. That year he also married a teacher known as Gertrude, or Gitty, whom he had met at a Zionist meeting, who became his life partner and soulmate. In 1954 he went on an IZFA trip to Israel with Gitty, their first visit to Israel. While President of IZFA, he would travel around America and Canada, meeting with Zionist groups on campuses, supporting their efforts.

After finishing his term at IZFA, Gabe started his law studies at McGill University. That same year, Davida, their daughter, was born. After finishing his degree, Gitty and Gabe started to save money to make aliyah, Gabe through his law practice and Gitty through teaching. During this time, Gabe became interested in the Catholic Church's struggle for equal rights in Quebec and became active with them.

Finally, having saved enough money, they made aliyah in 1964 with Davida, who was nine years old, arriving in Netanya and Ulpan Ben Yehuda. Gabe had no knowledge of Hebrew but joined the most advanced class at the Ulpan. He worked extremely hard and finished the ulpan as valedictorian. While studying for his Israeli Bar exams, he started to teach English law terminology at Tel Aviv University. He passed his exams and became a lawyer in Israel. At the same time Gitty started to work as a teacher at the Seminar Hakibbutzim and in the IDF.

Gabe also continued to be an active Zionist and was appointed to be the head of the AACI – Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, which helps olim who immigrate to Israel from North America.

He was always interested in politics, was always a Mapam supporter and was even asked to run for the Knesset in Shulamit Aloni's party. He refused because he felt his grassroots work with AACI was more important.

In addition, he was very involved in Secular Humanistic Judaism. He would travel to conferences around the world to meet with other Secular Humanists. In Israel he helped to form a Hebrew speaking Secular Humanist group together with Yehuda Bower, as well as an English speaking group with Saul Harris. He was also a strong supporter of the Oraynu congregation in Toronto, where Davida's family were members.

During all of this time he did not stop his work as a lawyer. Through this avenue he chose to work for peace in the Middle East, by creating connections between Jewish and Arab lawyers in Israel, the Middle East and around the world. He continued his practice as long as possible, even moving his office from Tel aviv to his house when he got sick.

Gabe is survived by his wife Gitty, sisters Harriet and Phyllis, and grandchildren Sheara and Shawn. 

 

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Monday, 20 September 2021

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