Woman attacked by fellow Birthright participant


(JTA) — A New Jersey woman was attacked in Israel by a fellow participant on the Birthright Israel program.

Sherry Kestenbaum, 25, of Piscataway, N.J., was attacked May 31 in the hallway of a hotel at a kibbutz guest house near the Dead Sea, the New Jersey Jewish News reported. Fellow participant Jonathan Haft reportedly made advances to Kestenbaum, which she rebuffed, according to the newspaper.

Haft, a martial arts expert, remains in jail, charged by Jerusalem Police with assault with a deadly weapon. A court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Kestenbaum began reconstructive facial surgery at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital on Sunday. She will require about two years to fully recover, according to the newspaper. Her injuries include multiple broken facial bones, loss of teeth and severe chest contusions that brought on pneumonia. Her jaw has been wired shut.

Kestenbaum’s parents, Art and Wendy, praised Birthright, the Jerusalem Police and the Israeli hotel guest who called police and stayed with the injured woman until help arrived.

Sherry Kestenbaum said she plans to return to Israel, the Jewish News reported.

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