RAMAPO, N.Y. - As an attacker swung his machete around the crowded Hanukkah party at the home of a Rabbi in Monsey, Rockland County, Saturday night, slashing five people, Yosef Gluck sprung to action.
"He lured the stabber out of the home, he set himself up as a target to deter [the attacker] from attacking others, he seized a table and used it as an improvised weapon to get the attacker to flee the house," Ramapo Town Supervisor Michael Specht said.
Gluck also chased after Grafton Thomas as he ran to a car so that he could record Thomas's license plate. The information would prove critical, allowing NYPD officers to stop and arrest Thomas soon after in Harlem.
Gluck was honored Tuesday with the Ramapo Freedom Award at Town Hall.
"The average person would have run to a closet or hid under a table but what an extraordinary person he is," Rep. Nita Lowey said. "Without Yosef, we never would have caught him as quickly as we did."
After accepting the award he played down his heroism, saying, "I just did what God made me do at that moment."
Gluck decided to keep the now-cracked table he threw at Thomas to use as a stand for his menorah he says to commemorate the miracle that no lives were lost on that terrifying night. The officials honoring him said his actions may have played a part in that.
"I'm not usually a courageous guy, I'm not a brave man, I try to be behind the light whenever I can," he said. "At that minute, God pushed me to go inside and that's what I did."
While the event took a celebratory tone, there were somber moments as officials denounced the stark rise in anti-Semitism.
At another point, a son of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, who was hosting the Hanukkah gathering Saturday, led the group in prayer for a stabbing victim who remains hospitalized. That man, identified by community members as Yehoaef Neuman, is in his 70s and still in critical condition.