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.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

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.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.