The parents of Leiby Kletzky, the 8-year-old Borough Park boy who was killed and dismembered last week, stopped sitting shiva this morning. The grand jury investigating Kletzky’s alleged killer, Levi Aron, is expected to announce his indictment today, according to the Brooklyn Attorney’s office. And the Medical Examiner’s office has revealed that the boy was drugged as well as asphyxiated.
But as the new details and pending trial keep the focus on the gruesome killing itself, the death of Leiby Kletzky is also starting conversations about what can be done in the future to prevent similar horrors from taking place.
The murder has shone a bright light on the Shomrim, the neighborhood security forces who serve many of the functions of police in New York’s Hasidic neighborhoods. The Shomrim and NYPD officials are quick to say the two organizations work well together. But a story in Jewish Week suggests the relationship is uneasy at best, and quotes unnamed NYPD officials complaining the Shomrim keep information from the police.
The Brooklyn South Shomrim waited two hours to call the police after being notified Kletzky was missing, but that probably wouldn’t have made a difference in this case.
More disturbing is the revelation that the Shomrim keep a list of suspected child molesters, but don’t share it with police out of respect for mesirah, the prohibition on informing on another jew.
“The community doesn’t go to the police with these names because the rabbis don’t let you. It’s not right,” Shomrim member Jacob Daskel told the Daily News.
The Jewish Week says there are plenty of rabbis who say it’s alright to call the cops, but the Shomrim are cherry-picking inflexible rabbinical advice so as to protect the community’s reputation.
It’s unclear how these concerns of privacy will jibe with a couple of other proposals stemming from the Kletzky killing:
The NYPD is urging the community to consider issuing their kids Operation Safe Child cards, carrying the kids’ fingerprints and vital statistics.
Further, as it was the unblinking eye of a surveillance camera that ultimately led police to Levi Aron, now Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind wants a tax rebate to encourage business owners to fill the neighborhood’s streets with closed-circuit cameras.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 20, 2011