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‘V’ Is for Victory

The odyssey of Jack Tytell: An intimate look at the accused Jewish killer

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V. A Good Father

Dassi Krief tells me that she tried to quit smoking for her husband, but, whenever tragedy falls on her family—and it falls often—she reaches for her one and only crutch: the blue steel-grey smoke. “In hindsight, he had some obsessions,” Krief says. “He might have been a weird person, maybe he is, but he is a nice person.” She remains calm while talking about the possibility that her sister is married to a killer. “As normal beings, not mental doctors, we are not supposed to see these things,” she says, referring to her and her family’s inability to see Jack Tytell for who he is. She is a dam protecting a flood plain, which is Rivka, Tytell’s wife.

“If we met a man who we didn’t like and was not a good daddy, it wouldn’t be anything but the rest of a bad story,” Krief says as she stands upright and elegantly rests her left elbow on her left hip. She pulls the cigarette from her lips, the smoke trails while words follow, “But it all feels like a bad dream. I cannot believe it in my heart.”


Handout photo provided by the Israeli Police on November 2, 2009.
CREDIT: GSS via Getty Images

We are meeting at the Jerusalem central bus station, after passing through metal detectors, a luggage scanner, and riding up the escalator. We were supposed to meet at her home in Ma’ale Shomron in the West Bank, but Krief got cold feet and almost canceled the interview, before finally agreeing to one hour at a café on the second floor of the bus station. Everyone around us just went through a metal detector before a security guard dove elbow deep in our bags. Teens walk with cellphones pressed against their ears, mothers walk with children pressed against their bosoms, Orthodox men stop what they are doing to pray, fatigued IDF soldiers laxly sling M-16s on their shoulders as they wait for a bus back home.

Krief thinks that the accusations are made up. Tytell never had a steady job, he was hard to talk to and often seemed distracted, but he was brilliant with the computer, could fix any problem, and was taking an online desktop publishing course. He never finished the course, nor did he get a job. But he was gentle, generous, and Jewish, so nothing else really mattered.

At 29, she says she’s too old and rational to trust in hope. She says the accusations against her brother-in-law cannot have been conjured out of thin air, but she is still in a state of disbelief. “I think everyone is falling on him, accusing him of all the unsolved crimes in Israel,” she says. She takes a sip from her water bottle and removes her pink lace headband to let her wavy hair cascade. She folds the lace in her hands. “But, then again, it all can’t be for nothing, that’s my rational thinking,” she says. “But in my heart I will never believe it.”

A year ago Krief was in desperate need of money. When her sister phoned and asked her how she was doing, Krief mentioned that she needed 2,000 shekels (about $535) to make ends meet. The next night there was a knock at the door, and her brother-in-law was standing there holding a white envelope. He handed her the envelope and said, “Don’t say anything.” Inside was 2,500 shekels. “He drove almost two hours to give me money he didn’t have,” she says with a hopeful stare. “That’s the generous man we knew.” The Jack Tytell who was portrayed as a heartless killer in Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post was an evil man with a face she did not recognize. The man she knew was a nice person, a strong man, and a gentle father who looked out for everyone’s safety. He rushed to help Moshe Avitan, a brother-in-law and neighbor in Shvut Rachel who was shot by an Arab on Route 60 near their settlement. He taught Krief’s husband martial arts so he could protect himself. When he got up to go to the bathroom, he would apologize.

“From what I knew, Rivka and Yaakov were happy and in love on top of a mountain,” she says before we part. The last time she saw Tytell was two days before he was arrested last October. Avitan had just got home from the hospital, where he was expected to die from the shooting on Route 60. They were singing a song from the Haggadah, which Krief wrote out for me in Hebrew: “And God stood up for our fathers and for us. Not only one rose against us to destroy us. In every generation many rose against us to destroy us. And the Holy One, Blessed is He, saved us from their hand.” Everyone was crying except for Tytell.

Next: The Enemy Within

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Hershl says:

Remember Son of Sam?

He was the nice Jewish boy who in 1977 terrorized NYC and killed six people.

He got 25 years.

He became a born again Christian and now he is doing just fine, thank you.

MaxS says:

Just think if he was a Palestinian he would be a hero to the whole Palestinian nation and the BBC would be interviewing him to try and understand the motivations behind his acts.

Odd this: “The settlement sits beneath Shilo, across the way from Eli off Route 60″. Actually, the community of Shvut Rachel, east of my living room window, is above about 90% of Shiloh. The urban center of Eli, with about 750 families, is to the north, with Shiloh in-between the two.

Yoni says:

Great article. So when is Tablet going to publish a 6 page intimate look at a Palestinian terrorist through the eyes of family, friends, teachers, and victims?

Yoni says:

“While tramping through the West Bank, not once was I, a gentile, treated with violence, hate, or disrespect.”

Yeah, I’m guessing he wasn’t an Arab gentile. Insightful.

Ken Besig Israel says:

Here we have a fellow, Yaakov Tytell, obviously disturbed and even declared unfit to stand trial by the government of Israel’s own forensic pyschiatrist. And yet with all this Tablet Magazine decides to publish a six page examination of his life, and probably totally fabricated “crimes.”
Tytell is plainly psychotic and lives in a fantasy world, and yet his rants and raves are taken as fact, and his confessions, however fantastic, are taken as credible.
I am a little surprised Tytell didn’t take credit for the Kennedy assassination or the 9/11 attacks in America as well.
The Israel Police have no physical evidence whatsoever showing that Tytell was in any way connected to any of the crimes he confessed to, a court appointed forensic psychiatrist has declared Tytell unfit to stand trial, and as even the simplest and unsophisticated person can see, Tytell is plainly psychotic.
The simple truth is that Tytell is probably not guilty of anything except being crazy and being used by the Israeli Police to clear their unsolved crime blotter.

Dani Levi says:

Tablet is the best.

brad friendly says:

An excellent piece of reporting, and why TABLET is quickly becoming a must-read for anyone interested in the Jewish world.

Dori says:

Wait, what?
“The Ortizes are convinced that other Jews hate their kind of Jews, who were <> and continue to observe many Jewish customs but believe that Jesus is the Messiah sent by God.”

…compared to…

“[David Ortiz] was <> in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn,”

If you’re born a gentile, and believe in Jesus doesn’t that make you a Christian?

KenE says:

Think of all those progressive Jews who composed the Yevsektia (Jewish section of the SOviet Communist party) who were perps of mass murder. What in their background, schooling, ideology friends, world outlook… caused them to participate in heinous crimes?

I always look to Yisrael Medad for corrections … I am not exactly pro-settler, but he is a man I can trust.

As Max notes, it is noteworthy that Teitel is not lionized by Jews, but generally despised. If he were an Arab murderer of Jews, he would be well received by his people.

EdwinS says:

Hershl – Son of Sam wasnt ‘a nice Jewish boy’ – he was of Italian descent and adopted by a Jewish couple.

yoni says:

growing up jewish makes son of sam jewish. you dont know of jews of italian descent?

Dave the Locust says:

Son of Sam was indeed Jewish.

Although his surname at birth was ‘Falco’, his mother, Betty Falco was Jewish and he was the product of an extramarital affair that she had had with a Jewish man.

Mr. Falco insisted that the bbay be given up for adoption if they were to remain married, and that is how he came to be David Berkowitz.

Anyhow, who can look at that punim and honestly claim that he wasn’t Jewish?

Not that this is anything to be proud of!

He joins the dishonor roll of other shandas such as Roy Cohn, Joel Steinberg, Henry Kissinger, Joeseph Lieberman, and Kenny G!

Hershl says:

After many years we are now learning that at least one Spanish priest, during the Spanish Inquisition, was actually a covert Jew, whose personal ministry was to help Jews who had been forced to convert, die as Jews.

Mindblowing and totally unknown.חיזוק-לעם/

rykart says:

JamesEJ says:

As Max notes, it is noteworthy that Teitel is not lionized by Jews, but generally despised. If he were an Arab murderer of Jews, he would be well received by his people.


Rubbish. The vermin of Israel have certainly made a national hero out of the murderer Baruch Goldstein and turned his tomb into a monument where they like to congregate and celebrate his deeds. Netanyahu meanwhile, celebrates the blowing up of the King David hotel.

Wonderful “people,” the Israelis.

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‘V’ Is for Victory

The odyssey of Jack Tytell: An intimate look at the accused Jewish killer