Jascha Heifetz in the Case of the Violinist and the Fanatical Doorman

Who attacked Heifetz 70 years ago in Jerusalem for the crime of playing Richard Strauss? A dive into an unsolved mystery.

Nothing seemed amiss when a car dropped Jascha Heifetz back at the King David Hotel on April 16, 1953, after a recital at Edison Hall in Jerusalem.

Heifetz had played the program, which included Richard Strauss’s E flat violin sonata, to his usual exacting standards and to thunderous applause.

A lone doorman greeted his car, sandwiched between two police Jeeps, when it arrived at the hotel just after midnight. Having safely ferried Heifetz and his entourage — his bodyguard, his son, his accompanist — to the King David, the Jeeps drove away.

The bodyguard got out of the car first and went through the hotel’s revolving door. Heifetz, carrying his violin case, was next. But before he could enter, the doorman rushed up to him, speaking Hebrew words Heifetz couldn’t understand. This was no doorman.

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