Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's older sister Yehudit Mendel, who for many years was estranged from her family, has been showing great concern for her ailing younger brother since his massive stroke, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.
The 80-yeasr-old Yehudit, a widow who has no children and who is better known as Dita, resides in Brooklyn. According to reports she maintains daily contacts with Gilad, Sharon's son, who continuously updates her on her brother's condition.
The story behind Sharon and Dita's relationship is long, complex and shrouded in mystery. According to sources familiar with the affair, Dita left Israel as a young woman after marrying a doctor who had trouble finding a job in the country. The move apparently deeply angered Sharon's mother, Vera, who never forgave her daughter for leaving her homeland.
Following Dita's departure to the United States, Vera severed all ties with her daughter, and disinherited Dita from her part of the family estate in Kfar Malal in her will, leaving it entirely to one grandson - Omri, Ariel Sharon's son.
Dita was reportedly deeply hurt by the decision and refused to return to Israel and attend her mother's funeral.
Over the years, conflicting versions have emerged regarding the nature of Sharon's relationship with his sister. Sources say the two have experienced periods of total estrangement, which came to an end several years ago when the brother and sister finally reinitiated contacts.
An associate of the family recently reported that Gilad visited with his aunt in the United States a few months ago.
However, family members believe Dita's poor health will prevent her from coming to Israel to visit her stricken brother.
Notably, in Ariel Sharon's biography "The Shepard," author Nir Heffetz writes that in her will, Sharon and Dita's mother, Vera, expressed her wish that the two "would live in understanding, friendship, love, brotherhood and peace" with one another.