Cross-dressed To Kill: Cops Hold Hasid in Murder

By Eric J. Greenberg

Published November 05, 2004, issue of November 05, 2004.
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On October 27, police found the body of a 75-year-old Jewish man from Brooklyn, N.Y., who had been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Then the police announced that the suspect in custody was the man’s roommate — a Hasidic cross-dresser.

The Forward has learned that the victim, Rahamim “Raymond” Sultan, was a regular contributor to a newsletter distributed by followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. Sultan, whose decomposing body was discovered in his Midwood apartment, regularly contributed articles and letters to the Voice of Judea, the main American newsletter of the Kahane movement. Sultan, a Syrian immigrant and a regular at the local Young Israel of Midwood Senior Center, was being mourned this week by followers of Kahane — who himself was gunned down in a New York hotel November 5, 1990 by El Sayyid Nosair, an Islamic terrorist connected to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and to the planners of the September 11 destruction of the Twin Towers.

Monday, even as the latest Voice of Judea was memorializing Sultan, his roommate, 47-year-old Howard Goldstein, was being indicted for second-degree murder by a Brooklyn Supreme Court grand jury.

The bearded Goldstein, who walked around the Midwood neighborhood in the white shirt and black coat that are traditional in Hasidic circles, had shocked police last week when he answered Sultan’s apartment door wearing women’s stockings, red lipstick, blue eye shadow and pink high heels. Sultan’s body was on the living room floor, partly in a garbage bag and covered with blankets, investigators said.

Police went to the apartment after a senior center director became worried because she had not seen Sultan in several days.

Sultan, whose wife, Audrey, died from cancer last year, had taken Goldstein in as a boarder to help pay the bills. Police believe that Sultan was killed after he demanded that Goldstein, who apparently was unemployed and panhandling for money around the neighborhood, pay his share of the rent.

When police searched Goldstein’s room in Sultan’s apartment last week, they found a rubber sex doll dressed in black lace next to his bed, as well as a door covered with Vietnam War-related newspaper clippings and photos of POWs.

Goldstein was not mentioned in the Kahane newsletter that began with a sad announcement to readers about “the brutal murder of Rahamim Sultan, a subscriber and a contributor whose articles and letters were regularly published in the Voice of Judea.

“Rahamim was a true Tzadik in every sense of the word,” the newsletter said.

The newsletter also noted that a special fund has been established “by friends and students of Rahamim” to build a library and Torah study hall in his memory in Tapuach, Israel, the Kahanist settlement near Hebron. “Residents, guards from the Jewish Legion and IDF soldiers can come to study Torah and Jewish history as well as to learn from Rahamim’s writings and archives,” it read, adding that the study hall and library will be named after Sultan.

Attempts to reach editors at the Voice of Judea before press time were not successful.

Sultan’s friends and neighbors this week recalled a caring, sweet, loving man, willing to help those less fortunate than him at the center — for example, taking people with Alzheimer’s disease to their doctor appointments. Apparently, he had been trying to get Goldstein to move out.

Goldstein, an Army veteran, was described as a strange character who was evicted last year from his apartment above a nail salon near Ocean Avenue and Avenue M. His lawyer, Jay Cohen, said this week that he might seek an insanity plea for Goldstein, who was on suicide watch at Bellevue Hospital.

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