Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

United in Grief

Shimmy Blum

Pleas for assistance turned into cries of anguish, as Jews around the world struggle to come to grips with the tragic death of eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky a”h after he was abducted in Boro Park on the way home from day camp. Though the tremors of this event will never completely recede from memory, this special boy, his loving family, and the dedicated community that is Am Yisrael, have imparted to the world a deeply felt dose of inspiration and resolve.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It was his first day walking home alone.

On his way home from day camp last week, Leiby Kletzky missed a turn and ended up lost at a street corner at the same time that a deranged predator was in the vicinity. According to the evidence known at press time, he was murdered in a manner shockingly gruesome even by criminal standards, not to mention by an individual of Jewish lineage.

There is no doubt that it had been destined by the One Above that little Leiby Kletzky a”h would meet his unthinkable fate on a bright summer day last week. Nor is there any doubt that the sins that brought about this calamity were not his, a sweet youngster adored by all who knew him for his yiras Shamayim and middos tovos, whose purity shone through on the grainy images of his face displayed around the globe.

As thousands of Yidden of all stripes gathered near Boro Park’s Beis Medrash Heichal HaTefillah last Wednesday evening to bid farewell to the neshamah that gripped the world’s attention, this reality was not lost on anyone. Mingling with the overflow crowd, I heard attendees sighing, “Mehn darf teshuvah tuhn – we must do teshuvah” and similar sentiments. Others stood silently, but clearly had such thoughts on their minds.

Throughout the day preceding the levayah, the throngs of law enforcement personnel and journalists roaming Boro Park’s streets wore long faces; Jews of every description wept openly and recited Tehillim. The thick clouds hovering above, the howling winds, and the harsh bouts of rain reinforced the thick sense of foreboding in the air.

Seeking the Lessons

The apprehension was palpable among the crowd as they awaited the arrival of Leiby’s aron. Shock was universal, as was the recognition that, whatever new information may yet emerge, this incident will never be comprehensible by the human mind.

 We simultaneously came face to face with the darkest and brightest sides of Am Yisrael, the nation that banded together to fruitlessly search for — and then, suddenly, mourn — their young brother. Clearly, we will never again be the same.

Flatbush resident Tzvi Wolf, like countless others at the levayah, had never met the victim or his family. Nor does he even live in the same neighborhood as them. Yet, he felt very much a part of the week’s events. “This situation brought people together,” he explained. “Every Yid is touched by this incident; even the irreligious woman I saw in the bakery this morning was talking about it.”

Looking ahead, Reb Tzvi saw a clear lesson: “We have to start taking part in more gemilas chasadim. We should be thinking less about ourselves and more about others.”


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"