A 70-year-old ultra-Orthodox woman found herself the target of a brutal religious hate crime on Monday night, when four thugs broke into her home and beat her up before leaving her handcuffed and bleeding. The thugs hit her repeatedly with a metal rod, breaking her right hand, crushing her left leg and injuring her face. They used their cell phones to document the attack, evidently to report back to those who sent them.
'Modesty Patrol lynched me'
Elderly Jerusalem woman brutalized by thugs who evidently thought she was a missionary; police source: Assailants wanted to send a message
Yaron Doron • Ynet
A 70-year-old ultra-Orthodox woman found herself the target of a brutal religious hate crime on Monday night, when four thugs broke into her home and beat her up before leaving her handcuffed and bleeding.
"They were sent by the Modesty Patrol," the woman, S., told Yedioth Ahronoth. "They told me, 'You are destroying the neighborhood with you missionary teachings."
The thugs hit her repeatedly with a metal rod, breaking her right hand, crushing her left leg and injuring her face. They used their cell phones to document the attack, evidently to report back to those who sent them.
Jerusalem police investigators confirmed that the attack was religiously-motivated.
"It's clear that this wasn't a robbery," a source close to the investigation said. "The suspects didn't come to the apartment to steal property, but to send a message."
S. made aliyah from the United States two decades ago. She has two sons, one of whom resides in Israel, while the other lives in the US. On Sunday, she was supposed to travel to the US to attend her grandson's Brit Milah. Instead, she was hospitalized at the Hadassah-Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Over the past eight years, S. has been living alone at a primarily haredi area of Jerusalem's Nachlaot neighborhood, and has been teaching women who wish to convert to Judaism.
"They thought that I'm a missionary because I teach non-Jewish women," S. said
'You have bad influence on neighborhood'
On Monday night, a haredi man claiming to be a beggar came to her door and asked for spare change. Less than a minute after he left, she heard another knock on her door. This time, four masked men in gloves forced their way in, cuffed her and searched her home.
"They yelled, where are the video tapes, where's the computer," S. recalled. They didn't find any tapes, but took her laptop and her cell phone, and left.
S. managed to get up and get help, but when she stepped outside she realized the nightmare wasn't over. The assailants were still in the yard; they forced her back into her home and brutalized her.
"They yelled, you have a bad influence on our neighborhood," she said. "I knew there were rumors in the neighborhood that I'm a missionary, because they see non-Jewish women entering my home, but I'm only helping them convert to Judaism.
When they finally left again, the neighbors called emergency services, and informed her son, who reiterated the suspicion that his mother was targeted by the Modesty Patrol.
The haredi extremist group is known for violently targeting religious individuals who act in a way they deem unworthy of the ultra-Orthodox world.
The police launched an investigation but has yet to apprehend suspects.
The woman is Sarah Vorst. She runs a conversion institute for women, Ohel Sarah Imeinu, closely linked to Rabbi Nochum Eisenstein, the haredi rabbi who helped Rabbi leib Tropper take over the conversion business in North America and who is Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv's point man on conversion.
Eisenstein specializes in telling converts that the Orthodox conversion they had is not really valid.
Ohel Sarah Imeinu strings potential converts on for what can be years, making them pay for life coaching classes and refusing to accept knowledge they've gained elsewhere as valid – even if that knowledge is 100% correct under haredi standards.
Vorst is herself a convert.
The suspicion she is a missionary was probably created by Nachlaot residents – I can think of one in particular – who is upset with her for her mistreatment of students and for what she believes to be Vorst's role in protecting and enabling Nachlaot's alleged pedophile ring.
Police have done a slow, plodding and often terrible job dealing with that alleged pedophile ring, as have prosecutors.
But neither can afford to let this type of vigilante justice take place – especially when the basis for that street justice is almost certainly false.
Vorst is by all accounts I've heard over the past five years or so a terrible person.
She deserves to be prosecuted for fraud and extortion – not beaten for being something she is not.