Yeshiva Student in Israel Implicated in Alleged Plot to Murder Her Father
Menu JTA Search

Yeshiva Student in Israel Implicated in Alleged Plot to Murder Her Father

Download PDF for this date

Police plan to travel to Jerusalem to interrogate a young American woman implicated in an alleged plot to murder her father, a prominent child psychiatrist and Stanford University professor.

The woman is Rachel Wasserman, 22, a yeshiva student in Jerusalem, who may be involved with two other American-born Israelis in a plot to try and kill her father, Dr. Saul Wasserman.

He is director of the Pacific Center for Child/Adolescent Family Mental Health in San Jose and associate professor of psychiatry at Stanford University.

The alleged scheme unraveled with the arrest of two American-Israeli brothers, who emigrated from New York to Jerusalem 10 years ago. Austin (Avraham) Feld, 38, is described as an Orthodox rabbi and father of six children, and his brother, Scott, 36, operates a sheep farm outside Jerusalem, he told police.

Pending a preliminary hearing set for Dec. 4, the two men were being held in Santa Clara County jail on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and burglary. The district attorney’s office is currently evaluating the evidence against Rachel Wasserman.

The brothers were arrested in Palo Alto, Calif., by a patrol officer who saw them removing things from their jackets and stowing them in a car trunk, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Suspecting that they were shoplifters, the officer searched the trunk and found large kitchen knives, ski masks, gloves, plastic handcuffs, nylon stockings and hand-drawn maps and a key to the Wasserman home.

The Feld brothers were arrested not far from the Wasserman home. Palo Alto police detective John Lindsay noted that “there is probably 9,000 to 10,000 miles between Jerusalem and California, and to be stopped seven-tenths of a mile from the Wasserman residence is pretty lucky.”

Dr. Wasserman identified the confiscated maps as having been drawn by his daughter, Rachel, who is currently studying at an Orthodox religious institute for American women. Her father said that Rachel has threatened to kill him twice in the last two years and has accused him, her mother and maternal grandfather of sexually abusing her, according to the police report.

He said that she had been treated by psychiatrists since her freshman year at Columbia University, and he linked her emotional distress to her involvement in a women’s support group for victims of exual abuse.

Austin Feld founded and directed the Mossad Maccabee, a non-profit volunteer organization helping the disadvantaged, according to a 1991 Jerusalem Post story cited by the Mercury News. Feld is also known as an outspoken opponent of missionary cults.

Feld told police that the key to the Wasserman home had been given to him by Rachel Wasserman, who, he said, wanted him to go into the house to “feel the energy.” He said he was the young woman’s psychologist and that she had worked at his institute.

Rachel Wasserman has not been seen at her Jerusalem apartment for the past few days, her landlord reported. The Wasserman family in Palo Alto has retained a top defense lawyer for Rachel, should she be indicted.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund