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September 14, 1990 - Image 47

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-09-14

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Front page of the New
York Daily News on July
30, 1966 shows the
dramatic rescue of Estelle
Donna Evans who leaped
from the Queensboro
Bridge into the East River
after Meir Kahane ended
their affair

Fatal Attraction

A love affair between Rabbi Meir Kahane and a young Christian woman ended in tragedy, but
the New York Times chose not to reveal the relationship. A book excerpt.

Editor's Note: In Laurelton,
Queens in the mid-1960s, Meir
Kahane seemed to be just
another Orthodox rabbi giving
Hebrew lessons. To his
neighbors he was a self-effacing
teacher who was wonderful
with children. But by his own

admission, and confirmed by
sources in the Justice Depart-
ment, Rabbi Kahane and his

boyhood friend Joseph Churba
spent many of those years liv-
ing double lives, renting an
apartment in Manhattan under
assumed names, and spying on
left-wing student groups for the
Federal Bureau of Investiga-
tion. They also promoted the
U.S. position on the Vietnam
War in the Orthodox Jewish
community for the Central In-
telligence Agency.



n June 1966, while living
as "Michael King," Rabbi
Kahane met a twenty-one-
year-old woman named Gloria
Jean D'Argenio in a Second
Avenue bar. The woman, who
worked as a model under the
name of Estelle Donna
Evans, was more than just
another one-night stand.
Kahane fell in love with her.
Estelle had moved to New
York when she was eighteen
years old, in search of a
modeling and acting career.
The adopted daughter of a
solid, working-class couple
from Bridgeport, Connec-
ticut, Estelle was like many
single women who flock to

New York in search of a
glamorous career, yet never
quite make it. Still, to all who
knew her at that time, she
was stunning, with smooth
olive skin, long black hair,
and a full figure. Kahane, cap-
tivated by her looks, played
on her frailties.
Not long after they met,
Kahane proposed marriage.
He set the date for August 1,
1966-his birthday. He never
told her his real name, nor
that he was a rabbi with a
wife and four children in
Queens. He even visited her
house in Bridgeport several
times, telling her parents that
he worked in a top-secret
government job.
Two days before their wed-
ding, Kahane ended the affair
with a "Dear Jane" letter. He

confessed that he was mar-
ried, though he never admit-
ted his true identity.
At about 4:30 A.M. on
Saturday, July 30, a dis-
traught Estelle Donna Evans
walked along the lower level
of the Queensboro Bridge
near the Manhattan side with
her roommate, Laura Warner.
Sobbing convulsively, Estelle
asked her roommate how she
could have been such a fool.
Afraid that she was going to
commit suicide, Laura broke
away from her friend and ran
toward a passing car and call-
ed out: "Help! Help! She
wants to jump!" A motorist
sped to the foot of the bridge
and alerted the police, but not
before Estelle bolted for the
rail and plunged 135 feet in-
to the East River. Incredibly,

she survived. Severely in-
jured, she was rescued by two
policemen, who dived into the
water from the Manhattan
side of the river.

The suicide attempt made
the front-page of the Sunday
New York Daily News, com-
plete with photo of the of-
ficers straining to hold
Estelle's head above
water. The story said, "Miss
Evans told police she had
become despondent after
receiving a letter from her
boy friend breaking off their
romance." The police found
$183 in her handbag and a
check drawn to her order for
$137. They also reportedly
found a letter from Michael
King in which he ended their
Continued on Page 128



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