Rapaport: “The Whole Kletzky Story – It’s Over”


levaya-of-leiby-kletzky-9WNYC reports: In Borough Park, Brooklyn, ultra-Orthodox Jews this week have been gathering and eating in outdoor huts called sukkahs. The festival of Sukkot is also dubbed zman simchaseinu – “the Time of Our Rejoicing” – but for some this year, it’s also a bittersweet time.

This past summer, 9-year-old Leiby Kletzky was abducted and murdered. His confessed abductor is scheduled to be in court next week.

Kletzky’s absence this year was noticed by a local schoolteacher named Simcha, who lives next door to Leiby’s grandparents.

yosef-rapaport“They used to sing in their sukkah, and we all used to listen to him,” said Simcha, who like many in the cloistered neighborhood asked that his full name not be used. “We always used to point out the way he was singing, how nice it was, and my children are a little sad that he’s not around. It’s a sad, sad thing to see.”

He and others say over the last few months they’ve become more cautious about letting their kids wander as freely as they used to around Borough Park – a neighborhood that prides itself on being a small town in the heart of the big city, with everyone keeping an eye on everyone else.

Volvi Friedman, the retired owner of a prominent grocery store, said he used to let his kids head out by themselves to daily prayers at the synagogue and then off to school, starting around age 10. But not any more.”I don’t send my little kid alone in the morning,” Friedman said. “I wait until he goes with a bus. He used to walk home alone from school. I told him I’d rather he go with the bus.”

But there are also mixed signs about how protective parents are really being. One store clerk who wouldn’t give his name summed up the ambiguity saying everyone is indeed more alert than they used to be, and he’s now seeing kids with big paper name tags pinned to their shirts and jackets. But, at the same time, he’s also still seeing a lot of 5- and 6-year-olds coming into the store alone to pick up things for the family and putting it on their tab – as if nothing had changed.

Yosef Rapaport, a Borough Park newspaper reporter with 8 children and 22 grandchildren, was surprised recently to encounter a 4-year-old girl alone on the sidewalk. She approached him and asked him to help her cross the street. He helped her, of course, he said. It was the sort of thing that happened all the time before the deadly events of the past summer, but he said he hadn’t seen it since.

“I came home, and I told my wife, ‘The whole Kletzky story – it’s over,'” Rapaport said. “It’s like back to the old times.”

To Rapaport, people letting their guard back down a bit would be healthy. He said Borough Park, a community of large families, will always have scores of kids roaming around, going from house to house and store to store. He believes a certain amount of vigilance is just common sense. But because the murder was such an incredibly rare disaster, he said, people shouldn’t live in any more fear than they did before.

“I’m glad the trust is a little bit back in the town,” he said.

{WNYC/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. True the lieby story was a as bad and sad as anything
    But the truth that it doesn’t reflect on how reliable and trust worthy the jewish comunity is as a whole
    If my kid was out and he needed help I would tell him ask a yid and stay away from a goy
    Yidden are trust worthy there was one nut and that makes the story all the more sad
    Not to say to trust blindly we shouldn’t have before either

  2. Rapaport’s right of course. Seeing death in every turn is not, imho, the Torah way. We can certainly learn from this, but we must move on. As he notes, a certain amount of vigilance is just common sense. But because this murder was such an incredibly rare disaster,people shouldnÂ’t live in any more fear than they did before.
    Unlike say, terrorists who are actively looking to do harm, the Kletzky story is the outcome of no such coordination, it came of a deranged murderous mind.
    Should the fact that the killer was Jewish makes us think twice before we speak and befriend another Jew? I don’t think we can nor should learn this from this kind of story.

  3. May this New Year be a blessed one, with no more such horrors. Last year was especially difficult as so many tzadikim and pure innocent souls were taken from us, the bnai Yisrael. We can be sure that they are all interceding on behalf of all of us and for the hastening of the Geulah Shleimah!

  4. It’s far from over. I’m much more on top of my kids than before. The memory of the Kletsky is fresh on our minds and almost a day doesn’t go by where I don’t think it about it. When I see young children walking by themselves, I keep an eye out for them in case another maniac is walking our streets.
    This story is anything but over and it’s not likely to be anytime soon. It was a wakeup call and neither I, nor many others, are going back to sleep at this point.

  5. the kletsky tragedy is not over until we ALL get the wake-up message from Hashem-of why it happened together with 6 other Tzaddikim-of TESHUVA & return to Hashem. lest we don’t do teshuva ASAP & need another tragedy to occur C”V


  6. Four years old and outside of her own yard alone? Some parent is guilty of neglect, and it’s got nothing to do with Leiby a”h. There are a lot of things that can happen besides stranger abduction. Maybe someone should start a parenting shiur on “common sense.” If anything ch”v happens to that little girl, you will for sure have a very surprised parent in jail.