Bomber of Messianic Jewish family in Israel imprisoned
CAIRO, Egypt (Morning Star News) – After five years of waiting for justice, a Messianic Jewish pastor in Israel says he is satisfied with the sentence given to an ultra-Orthodox, Jewish nationalist who bombed his home and almost killed his son.
U.S. émigré Jack (Yakov) Teitel, 40, was sentenced on Tuesday (April 9) to two life terms in prison plus 30 years for several crimes, including the 2008 bombing of the apartment of pastor David Ortiz in Ariel, Israel that nearly killed his then-15-year-old son, Ami.
Ortiz, pastor of the Congregation of Israel, said he thought the sentence was right.
“We really feel justice has been done, true justice,” he said.
When Teitel was indicted on Nov. 12, 2009, he proudly flashed a victory sign from shackled hands and proclaimed, “God was proud of what I have done,” but in court he seemed to be a broken man, Ortiz said.
“He realized we were peaceful and we were going home, and he is not,” he said. “His life is over.”
On Jan. 16, Teitel was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder; one count each of attempted murder; illegal possession of firearms; incitement to violence and a second count of attempted murder for the Ortiz bombing. He was sentenced to 20 years for the Ortiz attack.
Teitel targeted Arabs, secular liberal academics, homosexuals and Jews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah promised in Jewish scripture and tradition. He had a particularly vitriolic hatred for Messianics, whom he saw as a threat to Judaism. He has said he bombed the apartment to stop the work of Ortiz, who ministers to Muslim Palestinians and Jews.
On March 20, 2008, Ami Ortiz was staying home from school when he spotted a Purim gift basket that the Ortiz’s house cleaner had brought inside and placed on a table. When he lifted the lid off the basket to get a piece of chocolate candy, the basket disappeared in a massive explosion that gutted the inside of the Ortiz home, shattered Ami’s body and left him unconscious on the floor, barely clinging to life.
He suffered massive injuries, including open chest wounds, burns and bomb fragments peppering his body. He was taken to the hospital in agony and endured several hours of surgery. He now attends college in the United States and participates in school sports. Both his mother, Leah, and his father consider his survival a miracle.
While Ami struggled to recover from his injuries, Ortiz struggled to get police to find the man who attacked his family. He called the past five years “an uphill battle” for justice. At one time, police actually sued the Ortiz family so they could maintain sole custody of a video from one of the Ortiz’s security cameras. The police lost the case.
Solving the case happened in large part, Ortiz said, because of the work of the FBI, which investigated the case at his request. David and Leah Ortiz both have dual citizenship in the United States and Israel.
“Without the intervention of the FBI, we would still be waiting for something to happen,” Ortiz said.
Even now the Ortiz family is fighting to get disability benefits for Ami. The government won’t give them the benefits from a national terrorism victim’s relief fund, because by Israeli definition for the fund, terrorism has to happen between opposing groups such as the Palestinians and the Israelis.
There are an estimated 1 million Messianic Jews worldwide, including more than 200,000 in the United States.
At the sentencing hearing, Teitel did not acknowledge the Ortiz family.
“He didn’t look at us at all, but every time the judge mentioned our name, his face turned red, and he twitched,” Ortiz said.
Teitel’s attorneys have said they will appeal both the sentencing and the guilty verdicts based on Teitel’s alleged compromised mental state when the crimes took place.
Ortiz said he feels that Teitel eventually will have a spiritual rebirth in prison and will come to believe that Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah.
“We’re believing God for it,” he said. “God has spoken to my heart about it. God is knocking at his heart.”
As for himself and his family, Ortiz said the attack placed them all in an authoritative and humble position to tell people in Israel and across the world about Jesus. For him, God turned the tragedy of a bombing into an opportunity.
“I think the Lord has put us in a place of higher responsibility,” he said. “I think the Lord has chosen us to suffer for His name’s sake.”