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.
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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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“When I send my kid to school, I think about where is he going, and when I take him off the bus, I’m very happy when he’s in my arms,” said Ezra Friedlander, CEO of Friedlander Group, a lobbying firm that represents not-for-profit organizations from the Orthodox community. Friedlander lives down the block from the school where Leiby was last seen.

“I’m more cognizant that Boro Park could be a dangerous place, too,” he said.

The school where Leiby attended summer camp, called Yeshiva Boyan Tiferes Mordechai Shlomo stands unchanged. Colored posters teaching the appropriate blessings for cakes and breads are hung along the outer wall. A telephone operator at the camp said that no one was available to speak about security changes a year after Leiby’s murder. Outside the building, an Orthodox man carrying cleaning supplies declined to speak about the anniversary of the murder.

“It’s enough,” he said.

In fact, many on the busy Friday morning streets were unwilling to discuss the anniversary. Young Orthodox couples with children begged off, saying they were late for appointments.

Outside a shoe store, three older men were playing a loud game of cards and shouting at each other in a hard-to-place language that may have been Bukhari, or possibly Russian. Asked about the murder’s anniversary, one of the men — who appeared to be losing, based on the noises from his opponent — dismissed the question. “I don’t know, man. I’m not from here,” he said.

The impact may be deeper than residents let on. One therapist who works with families in the Hasidic community in nearby Williamsburg, and who asked not to be identified because of concerns over client confidentiality, said that even in Williamsburg the killing had changed people’s thinking about the risks their children face.

“People are much more aware of the danger that’s outside, and being much more careful where their kids are going and what their kids are doing even in their spare time,” the therapist said.

For Friedlander, the incident seems to have tarnished his faith in his own community. “The fact that it was someone from the community that was capable of committing a grisly murder just proves that evil is everywhere and that’s it,” Frieldander said.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter@joshnathankazis


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