On Monday afternoon, eight-year old Leiby Kletzky disappeared in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood (home to the largest Orthodox Jewish community outside of Israel) after walking alone to meet his mother following day camp. Yesterday, his dismembered body was found in a dumpster while his feet were found in the home of Levi Aron, who has been charged with Kletzky’s murder.
Normally Kletzky took the bus home from day camp but he had wanted to walk home on his own. Chances are some of his friends had done it and he wanted to do it too. This boy wanted a little autonomy. His parents agreed to his plan provided that he meet his mother half-way.
Unfortunately, as sometimes happens to young children (and even adults) he got lost. Leiby asked for directions. If he had asked nearly anyone else, Leiby would have found his way to his mother. Instead he met Levi Aron. At the risk of sounding cliche, it turned into every parent’s worst nightmare. As if this whole situation wasn’t bad enough, Borough Park has long had a reputation as one of the safest neighborhoods in New York City. Yet even the safest of places aren’t immune from evil.
I cannot begin to imagine how frightened Leiby must have been when he realized his fate and that there was no one he could turn to for help. I also cannot begin to imagine the feelings of guilt his parents will likely endure for the rest of their lives. Yet his parents mapped out the route and did a dry run with Leiby beforehand. What more could they have done? The presumption of innocence notwithstanding, Levi Aron is the only person who bears any responsibility for what happened to Leiby Kletzky.
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