Jewish Journal

He’s No Robert Redford

by Adam Wills

Posted on May. 15, 2003 at 8:00 pm

An Irish multimillionaire pining for a London teacher offered her husband $1 million to divorce her in a real-life "Indecent Proposal" that has scandalized London's Orthodox Jewish community, according to a May 4 report in London's Sunday Times.

Brian Maccaba made the offer to Alan Attar after he allegedly became infatuated with his wife Nathalie Attar, an instructor at Beth Yosef preschool, which is funded by a nonprofit chaired by Maccaba.

Australia's Daily Telegraph reported that Maccaba, who is married, became interested in Nathalie Attar soon after she arrived at his $3.8 million home in North London to teach his children.

In a handwritten letter sent to the couple, Maccaba referred to Nathalie Attar as his "true soulmate" and the money as a "golden key" that would "set her free" and give the husband "a bachelor's freedom again ... to be a playboy in the south of France for a while."

Nathalie Attar was so shocked by the letter that she took it to Rabbi Dayan Lichtenstein, a senior rabbinic judge with the Federation of Synagogues' beit din, for advice.

The 30-something couple rejected the computer executive's offer.

A Jewish court cleared Maccaba of sexual harassment allegations and said that he had not acted inappropriately, according to The Sunday Times. But the letter has now become Lichtenstein's main piece of evidence in a defamation suit filed against him by Maccaba, alleging that the rabbi has damaged his personal and professional life.

Maccaba's suit alleges that the rabbi referred to him on two separate occasions as a known adulterer who pursued "young Jewish newlyweds" and who "has been involved in numerous affairs with married women within the Jewish community."

A spokesman for Lichtenstein denies the claim that the rabbi had made any slanderous comments.

Friends of Nathalie Attar told The Sunday Times that she was so distressed by Maccaba's alleged behavior that the couple has since left London for Israel.

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