Saturday, May 10, 2014

American Tourist Victim of Arab Terror?

[this is constantly being updated]

In the Davar newspaper of April 21, 1953, we read that two Jews were killed in Jerusalem the previous day:

Zvi Genoar or Geneur (phonetic spelling)  Genauer, 63 (see below), and his American niece, 24, Devorah, were found dead, shot in their home in Jerusalem.  Zvi's gemara was open on the table.  Both had been shot multiple times, he in a chair, she in her bed.

Although it is not specified, I am fairly sure this was an incident related to me by the late Rina Mor who vividly recalled it. As the article notes, the house had its doors open.  As I was told, this happened in Bayit Vegan, a religious neighborhood across from Mount Herzl, then an 'outlying' area.  As the man did not wish to be in the house with a woman alone, he left all the doors open and the Arab terrorists found easy prey. (see update below)

It's mentioned on page 80 in this book, Jerusalem Divided: The Armistice Regime, 1947-1967, by Raphael Israeli (with a wrong date by three days).

If anyone has more details, please leave them as comments.



This clipping from Maariv, April 22, notes that the woman was to be married in the United States shortly and that she had attended the Journalists' Independence Day Ball the day before her murder.  Despite a request from the American Consulate, the Mixed Armistice Commission observers were not permitted by the Jordanian Legion to cross over into Jordanian-occupied territory with their tracking dogs.

and on the same subject from Herut:

and this clipping from the following day indicates the Consulate assured Washington that indeed, the Rabbi and his niece were American citizens:

Herut has the age of the man as 33 (which fits better with the ages of his children) and notes that the woman had been studying at an educational institute for children in Ktamon with severe learning psychiatric disabilities

and Herut also reports on Consulate interest:

This section on the April 23 report in Al HaMishmar indicates that the murder took place in the area of Yonah Street which is in Geula and that the man had immigrated only 9 months previously and originated from Seattle, Washington

HaTzofeh of April 21 indicates he studied at the Mir Yeshiva, had studied at the Lakewood Yeshiva of Rav Aharon Kotler and came from Washington

More on April 22 which indicates that a representative of the American Consulate attended the funeral and that the man came from a Mizrachi Zionist family

More on the Consulate interest:

The American consulate here today entered the investigation of the murder of two Americans in this city yesterday. The victims, Zvi Genauer and his niece Deborah Genauer, were buried today.The Israeli police, meanwhile, have called on the United Nations authorities here to follow up the track of the murderers which leads to the Arab village of Beth Iksa, just across the Jordan line. The spoor of the killers was followed by bloodhounds.Zvi, a rabbinical student at a Yeshiva here, and Deborah, a New York social worker who spent a year in Israel, were riddled with Sten gun bullets. Zvi was found at a table in the kitchen clutching an open religious book while Deborah was found shot in bed in another room. Three children of Zvi who were sleeping in another room were unharmed. His wife and two other children were in Tel Aviv at the time. Deborah was due to leave for the United State. Shortly. Zvi and his family had been in Israel for the past five years.

A notice of expression of sorrow in HaTzofeh of April 24 for Devorah from the Mizrachi movement:

According to a 2011 obituary, the widow of Rabbi Tzi Hirsh Halevi Genauer, the male victim in the terror attack, died on December 22 that year.  Her name was Feigel Cecille, daughter of Karlin Rabbi Nissan Filtshik (SP?).  Her daughter, Bluma Wolpe, wife of Shalom Duber Wolpe, resides in Betar Illit.

I am now informed by JB that "the Genauers are a very prominent Seattle family, with many members living here".

From the Seattle Daily Herald22 April 1953, Page 13

Rabbi, Woman Slain In Jerusalem JERUSALEM (UP)— Dogs followed footprints today from a ransacked suburban house where a Seattle rabbi and his New York niece were slain to the Jordan- Israel armistice line. Police said the route of the tracks had been reported to the United Nations Israel- Jordan Armistice Commission. Authorities disclosed that a nine- year-old playmate of one of Rabbi Harry Genauer's five children found his body and that of Deborah Genauer, his niece, yesterday about 12 hours after they had been shot to death. Genauer's body was slumped over a Talmud opened at a page which read "he who sits up with the dead is absolved from reciting the Shma Israel in morning prayer." He had been shot in the abdomen seven times. Miss Genauer, said by relatives to be a graduate of Brooklyn College, had been shot in the head eight times. Her body was on a bed. Genauer came to Jerusalem from Seattle five years ago to study at the Orthodox Talmudic Academy. Miss Genauer was planning to return to the United States in a few weeks to continue her graduate work in psychology, relatives said.

and from the Fresno Bee the next day:

JERUSALEM -- AP -- Israeli police today pressed a search for the slayers of Deborah Genauer, 21, of Seattle, Wash, and her uncle, Zvi Genauer, a former resident of Lakewood, NJ, who were found shot to death in the uncle's home here. Authorities said the house was ransacked and evidence indicated the killers were marauders. Miss Genauer was the daughter of Mr and Mrs. Isaac Genauer, Seattle. Zvi Genauer came to Israel a little more than a year ago with, his wife and five children. The police said they apparently were shot with a sten gun at close range. The girl's body was found in bed and her uncle slumped over a table on which was opened the Talmud, a Hebrew religious book.  Miss Genauer, a graduate of Brooklyn College who had been visiting her relatives, had planned to return home to be married but had stayed over a few extra days lor the celebration of the fifth anniversary of Israel's independence.

The Palestine Post reported

There was a general outcry when General Bennet L. de Ridder, the U.N. Chairman of the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission refused to comply with the Israeli request to call an emergency meeting of the Commission to discuss the latest developments and, in particular, the murder of Zvi Genauer and his niece, Dvora, in Jerusalem. This incomprehensible U.N. decision was taken despite the fact that the tracks of the three marauders, responsible for this murder, were discovered by an U.N. observer and an Israeli officer who noted that they led to the Jordanian-occupied village of Beit Iksa. The General claimed that it was not the duty of his Commission to deal with incidents "of this type."


I have been informed by a family member that in the early 1960s, the Israel Police notified the family that a man hospitalized at Ezrat Nashim Mental Hospital gave a death-bed confession to a Rabbi that it was he who had committed the murders while on a leave from another psychiatric facility (the same one as Devora had been working at?).  The police could not interview the man as he died before the police being informed by the Rabbi but they were convinced that the man had been telling the truth and that certain details fit.



Anonymous said...

from someone in the know from Seattle who writes:

"My understanding is that they told people it was Arabs who did it. But it was really Jewish thieves. It was yom haatzmaut and they left the door open because of yichud as his wife and kids had gone out to celebrate. Let me know if this syncs with the newspaper account."

"It was Heshy Genauer who was killed along with his niece Debbie. Heshy was a brother to Ben, Kopel, Mendel etc. Debbie was the daughter of Isaac and Celia (sister to Joan and David)"

Ben,Kopel and Mendel are no longer alive, neither are Isaac and Celia, but Joan is...she's living in NJ, I think.

Anonymous said...

I think they might have cut off her finger for a ring, and that's one of the ways they knew it was robbery, not terrorists, but I'm not sure of this. ​"