After Year, Leiby Kletzky Murder Still Hurts

As Killer Cops Plea, Brooklyn Neighborhood Tries To Move On

Never Normal: The regular rhythm of life has long since returned to Leiby Kletzky’s Boro Park neighborhood. But the boy’s killing has left the community deeply scarred.
claudio papapietro
Never Normal: The regular rhythm of life has long since returned to Leiby Kletzky’s Boro Park neighborhood. But the boy’s killing has left the community deeply scarred.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published August 08, 2012.
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One summer afternoon last July, a mother waited on a Brooklyn street corner for an 8-year-old boy who would never arrive.

The abduction and murder of Leiby Kletzky shook the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Boro Park, where Leiby lived and died. One year later, the impact of the crime is still being felt.

Leaders of the Orthodox Shomrim patrol don’t want police to have access to security video in Leiby Kletzky’s Brooklyn neighborhood. Read the Forward’s story.

Now, Leiby’s alleged murderer, Levi Aron, is set to plead guilty to killing and kidnapping the child at a hearing August 9.

“The kids, I think, have basically forgotten,” said one 28-year-old woman who would only give her name as Sara, stopped a few blocks from where Leiby was last seen. “No one else has.”

When summer camps throughout Boro Park discharged students on a recent Friday afternoon, a few could be seen headed home without parents, as Leiby was when he disappeared. But even those traveling without adult supervision seemed to be accompanied by older siblings, and most were ushered quickly into waiting school buses.

One Boro Park mother who gave her name as Malka, stopped with her 2-year-old and her 4-year old, said that she never let her children play outside alone without her. “There’s a lot of sick guys out there,” she said.

SLIDESHOW: The corner in Boro Park where Leiby Kletzky was supposed to meet his mother.

The intersection of Boro Park’s 50th Street and 13th Avenue, where Leiby was supposed to meet his mother last July 11, today looks much as it did on the day of his funeral. A photo of a famous rabbi was on sale for $59.99 in the window of a Judaica store on one corner. Across the street, a well-known local eccentric hung around outside a kosher coffee shop, shouting at passers by and asking for money.

A few blocks away, a 40-year-old father said that the year-old slaying hadn’t disfigured the neighborhood. “One story doesn’t change the whole world,” said Moshe Reich, wearing the traditional Orthodox black hat and coat. “Life goes on.”

But while life may go on, there are sure signs that for some Boro Park residents, life has changed forever.

On 48th Street and 13th Avenue, just two blocks from the rendezvous Leiby never kept, a new high-tech surveillance camera keeps close watch over the neighborhood from a perch halfway up the side of a Chase Bank building. The futuristic-looking camera is as big as a shoebox, is cooled by a handful of fans and has at least four lenses trained on the busy intersection.

The camera is part of a controversial effort named in Leiby’s honor that is slated to blanket Boro Park with security cameras.


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