June 17, 2024
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‘My Friend Myrna, the Prime Minister’s Mother’

“I just feel overwhelmingly proud,” said Nina Glick, when speaking of her long-standing friendship with Myrna Bennett, mother of Israel’s new prime minister.

In a conversation with The Jewish Link, where she is a contributing editor, Glick discussed her relationship with the Bennett family, which dates back to 1974, when Myrna and her late husband, Jim, first moved to Montreal.

“I was chairperson of the welcoming committee of the Federation in Montreal,” Glick said. “Someone walked into one of the meetings and sat down near me. She had just moved to Montreal from Israel.” That woman was Myrna Bennett.

Myrna and Jim were both originally from secular Jewish homes in San Francisco. The couple married and set off on an adventure in the Peace Corps, which took them all over the world. They ultimately decided to settle in Haifa, Israel, “just because they really liked it there,” said Glick.

The Bennetts had three sons, Asher, Daniel and Naftali, and when Jim got a position as a shaliach for the Technion, the family temporarily relocated to Montreal.

“[Myrna and I] got to schmoozing,” Glick said. “And eventually I invited the family to our home. Naftali, the youngest, was only 2 at the time.”

According to Glick, the Bennett family was not observant when they moved to Montreal. “The boys first went to regular nursery school,” she said. “As Myrna and I became friends, we had them over for yontif and Shabbos … the family started becoming more religious.”

She continued, “They switched their kids to the Hebrew Academy and Talmud Torah. And they gradually came to like the Jewish lifestyle. Eventually they decided that when they returned to Israel they would throw out all of their pots, pans and dishes and kasher everything.”

In 1976, the Bennett family returned to their home in Haifa. Myrna and Jim made good on their plans and fully immersed themselves in religious Jewish life. “They sent their kids to religious Jewish schools,” said Glick. “They changed their whole house, became kosher and got very involved in their shul.”

The family continued along this path as the boys grew into men, all three becoming entrepreneurs and quite successful in their chosen professions. But they never forgot the Glick family and the impact they had on their religious lives. The families remain in close touch to this day, and Glick and Myrna speak often, including shortly after Naftali was sworn in as prime minister.

“My friend is the mother of the prime minister of Israel,” Glick proudly shared. “Naftali Bennett is the first prime minister to wear a kippah. He puts on tefillin every day. They are a modern Orthodox family whose priority is Judaism and yiddishkeit. … I am just so overwhelmingly happy for my friends.”

She concluded, “Naftali is a brilliant man who happened to go into politics, and now he is the prime minister of Israel.”

See page 69 to read this story in Nina’s own words, in her New in the Neighborhood column.

By Jill Kirsch

 

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