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Sick and Sad

July 17, 2011

Driving back to our home in Brooklyn late Tuesday night, down on a busy four lane road, I slowed to get past a thick patch of what I first thought were emergency vehicles parked smack in the middle of traffic.

It seemed that there must have been an accident, and then realized that they weren’t just pulled over but actually parked: lots of them. You know, like when the NYC police do one of those crazy swarm events to prove that in an emergency, they can all back into parking spaces really fast.

And then, I had to swerve to avoid hitting a man with side curls and yarmulke who ran in front of my car to make me slow down, and then tried to shove a flier in my window.

“You’re in my way,” I bellowed at him. I refused to take his flier. He yelled back at me. I didn’t hear what he said. He ran to another car.

I get mad when someone forces me to take action not to hurt them, and that’s just what this guy did. He and lots of other people were darting through traffic as it forcibly slowed to pass the cars parked in the middle of the road.

It was the Hasidim, mobilized. As we drove by, my husband explained to me what he thought it was about: an eight or nine year old boy had gone missing from the neighborhood adjacent to ours the day before, and an entire community in panic was mobbing traffic to get the word out.

I felt cowed, because no matter how badly someone is behaving in the middle of Ocean Parkway traffic, a missing child is one of the worst things to consider . . . desperate times, etc.

The next morning, I found myself sobbing at the news of Leiby Kletzy’s death. The missing boy was no longer missing: he had a name, a face, and the worst imaginable story. Neither my husband nor I could sleep on Wednesday night. We definitely were not alone in our distress.

As a mother and an aunt, what happened to the boy is not even a thing that I can think about. I keep it vague in my brain. With that in mind, one of the things that bothers me most, I think, is that the accused (who is also the confessed) said he killed the boy out of fear of the reaction that was brewing in the community. The police commissioner quelled notions that the reward and mobilization of the community should be at all to blame, but it bothers me that the people who threw themselves into the effort ever had to hear that statement at all, and might have wondered if the outcome would have been different had their actions been different. It was a tremendous show of community.

Brooklyn and our part especially is about as melty as can be but I wish that we really did live in a melting pot where all of our communities were integrated and cared for one another’s member’s like that.

It’s been a slow week for blogging and this appalling story, which has been on everyone’s mind, is one of the reasons why.

Let’s meet again soon.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April permalink
    July 17, 2011 8:41 pm

    This has been on my mind all week, as vague as I try to keep it too. It doesn’t make any sense, and I hope everyone in that community knows that whatever comes after “I did it because…” is sheer madness. Things like this have happened in every kind of community and have never made any kind of sense. And I wish, as i know all parents do whenever they have to think about it, that we could all raise our children in a world where nothing like this would ever happen again.

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