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Robert Manning ‘grief-stricken’ when Told of Wife’s Death in Israel

March 23, 1994
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Robert Manning, the militant American-Israeli recently sentenced here to life imprisonment for murder, was described as “distraught and grief-stricken” after being notified that his wife Rochelle had died in an Israeli prison, apparently of a heart attack.

Rabbi Zvi Block, a close friend and adviser, reported the response after visiting Manning in a federal detention center in Los Angeles, where he has begun serving his sentence.

Last October, Manning was convicted of complicity in the 1980 mail-bomb murder of a Los Angeles secretary.

Rochelle Manning, who was 54, was to have been tried here on the same charges in July. Shortly before her death, the Israeli High Court of Justice had rejected the last of a series of appeals to block her extradition to the United States.

Robert Manning, 43, was notified of his wife’s death early Friday morning by prison authorities, who offered him medication and psychological counseling. Shortly afterward he was visited by his four sisters, all local residents.


Manning has been awaiting transfer to a maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., but has now asked for permission to remain here temporarily to observe the traditional seven days of mourning at the detention center.

He also faces the problem of how to say the Kaddish for his wife without a minyan, said Block.

Attorney Richard Sherman, who defended Robert Manning to return to Israel for his wife’s funeral on Monday, because “there was absolutely no chance that he would be released.”

In addition, Sherman said, Manning would have had to pay for the airfare and expenses, running up to $30,000, for at least two federal marshals to accompany him to Israel.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean Dunlavey, who prosecuted the Manning case, concurred with Sherman’s assessment.

Rochelle Manning was buried on Monday in the Old Cemetery in Hebron after a magistrate’s court ruled that there should be no autopsy.

Police told the court there was no reason to suspect foul play in the woman’s sudden death. Her family opposed an autopsy on religious grounds, the court was told.

Earlier on Monday it was reported that Manning’s family wanted her to be buried alongside Dr. Baruch Goldstein, who last month gunned down 29 Palestinians at a Hebron mosque.

Goldstein has been laid temporarily to rest in the Meir Kahane park in Kiryat Arba, a settlement near Hebron.

Rochelle Manning, who along with her husband had been a follower of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and an early member of his Jewish Defense League, was said by her fellow inmates at the Neve Tirza women’s jail to have been in deep mourning for Goldstein, also a follower of Kahane.

(Contributing to this report was JTA correspondent Dvorah Getzler in Jerusalem.)

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