Child's grisly murder shocks Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood
The scene on Wednesday in front of the residence where Leiby Kletzky lived.
July 14th, 2011
04:53 PM ET

Child's grisly murder shocks Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

Brooklyn, New York (CNN) – An 8-year-old's grisly murder would shock any community, but there's an added layer of astonishment in this neighborhood because the alleged killer appears to hail from the same close-knit religious community as the victim.

On Thursday, New York police charged a 35-year-old man with the killing of Leiby Kletzky, an Orthodox Jewish boy, after officers found human remains in the man's refrigerator and a trash bin.

The alleged killer also appears to be an Orthodox Jew who lived relatively nearby to Kletzky, according to community members.

"You can't possibly describe how tragic this is and how upset people are this boy was murdered by a person living in the community, who shares his religion and his neighborhood," said Ezra Friedlander, who lives in Borough Park, the neighborhood where Kletzky went missing on Monday.

On Thursday, Levi Aron was arraigned on first degree murder and kidnapping charges in Brooklyn in connection with Kletzky's death.

"It would have been extremely scary if a terrorist would have come into the community and killed a boy, but when it's one of your own you feel even more vulnerable," said Friedlander, a public relations executive who represents many Orthodox Jewish clients.

"The level of fear that mothers and fathers and children here are experiencing is something that I never witnessed before," he said.

Police say the 35-year-old Levi Aron made statements Wednesday implicating himself in the death of Leiby Kletzky.

Kletzky was supposed to meet his parents after walking seven blocks from his summer day camp, but became lost and asked the suspect for directions, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Menachem Freed, a 37-year-old Orthodox Jew whose 9-year-old son was Kletzky's classmate, said the community prides itself on its faith-based unity.

Borough Park is composed mostly of Hasidic Jews and non-Hasidic ultra-Orthodox Jews of Eastern European descent. Signs for everything from pediatricians' offices to a pizza parlor are in both Hebrew and English.

Families with young children are everywhere, with streams of women pushing strollers down sidewalks and bearded Hasidic men piloting minivans through narrow streets.

"We all believe in the same ideas," Freed said, standing outside his son's preschool, where he showed up Thursday to help children deal with the murder.

On Monday night, Freed and his family had joined with other Orthodox Jews from the neighborhood to search for Kletzky.

The neighborhood's Jewish security patrol force - called the shomrim - searched for the boy through the night.

Working from surveillance video that showed Aron entering a dentist's office Monday while Kletzky waited for him across the street for seven minutes, police arrived at Aron's residence at 2:40 a.m. Wednesday to ask about the boy's whereabouts.

The suspect pointed them to the kitchen, where blood was visible on the freezer handle. Inside the refrigerator was a cutting board with three blood-spattered carving knives, Kelly said.

"A lot of people were saying that they would think differently about what they would allow their children to do," said Josh Nathan-Kazis, a staff writer for the Jewish newspaper The Forward, who is covering neighborhood reaction to Kletzky's murder.

"When you're there, it feels like a small town: Everybody knows each other," said Nathan-Kazis, describing Borough Park. "The fact that the alleged perpetrator was more or less from the same community, it's like they don't know who to trust."

There are questions about how active Aron was in the Jewish community, but pictures of him that have surfaced show him in traditional Orthodox Jewish dress.

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said the largely insular Orthodox neighborhood bred a sense of trust among adults and children.

"Borough Park is a largely Hasidic, Orthodox neighborhood - most people have beards and side curls," he said. "Often kids will trust someone who looks like their father or looks like their friend or like their teachers and say, 'Oh, this guy must be safe."

"This is not the case, never should have been the case," he continued. "You've got to be very, very careful. You've got to teach your kids. You've got to talk to your kids."

A young father who was pushing two strollers with children in Borough Park on Thursday said his rabbis told him to explain to his children that such a murder only happens "once in 10 years or even once in a lifetime."

Like many Orthodox Jews interviewed here, the man declined to give his name.

Nathan-Kazis said that rumors had begun emerging in Borough Park's Orthodox community that portrayed Aron as something of an outsider.

One such rumor suggested that Aron is a Sephardic Jew - meaning of Spanish of North African descent - unlike most Borough Park Jews, who are Ashkenazi, or of Eastern European descent.

"You could see the community struggling with the fact that the suspect is Jewish and lived nearby and at the same time protect a sense of safety in the community," Nathan-Kazis said.

Thousands of Orthodox Jews turned out for Kletzky's funeral on Wednesday.

On Thursday, community members organized an effort to initiate a Torah scroll in Kletzky's name.

"It's an extremely lofty way to elevate someone's memory," Friedlander said of the scroll. "Not every person has a Torah in their name."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Judaism • New York • Uncategorized

soundoff (1,564 Responses)
  1. R. Spalding

    A horrible case, but a relief to know that the killer was also a Jew, Levi Aron. Why? Because of the growing number of Goyim that are learning about the Satanic Talmud, it would be reasonable to think that a Goy would be responsible. As it is written, "...If the Goyim knew what we teach about them, they would kill us openly." – Libbre David. See 'Israeli Terrorism and the Talmud' on YouTube or Google 'Truth About the Talmud'.

    July 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  2. SnowVeil

    Jews, please be comforted; this is the Word of God in Jesus,
    "3 And I heard a loud voice from the Throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. 5 He who was seated on the Throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation chapter 21)

    July 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Hana

      Get off your high horse.

      July 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Muneef

      Horse? Troy..one?

      July 16, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Muneef

      Well it becomes like that when exported out of it's boarders....!

      July 16, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Hana

      Salam Muneef.

      No, I did not mean the horse from Troy. It is an expression of how someone thinks that they are high above the rest of people and better than them.

      July 17, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  3. univeralsunset

    It's impossibly sad that a child can't walk a few blocks without encountering a murderer.

    July 16, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  4. univeralsunset

    What can you say about this? I'm burnt out on child murderers. I guess he'll get Jose Baez to defend him. He'll find a jury that requires a video tape of the murder to convict and they'll all be writing books by mid November. What a Wonderful World.

    July 16, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  5. christianmother

    @William wow your an idiot with no heart.
    R.I.P. little one....you are truely free now.

    July 16, 2011 at 5:57 am |
  6. Atheist b/c Truth is Better Than Fiction

    A murder is murder whether it is done by some religious wing nut or someone secular. This has nothing to do with what the man's belief system is...it has to do with his psychological make-up, thus making him human. Unless he comes out and says he heard voices of a super natural kind instructing him, his belief system has to be kept out it.
    Unfortunately an innocent life has been taken and his family, friends and community are left to deal with the pain and try to move on. It can't be easy on this community knowing that it was one of their own that did this...moving on will be difficult and they deserve sympathy, not condemning. They are not the guilty SOB, the monster who did this is and I sincerely hope the 'eye for an eye' adage plays out here...this monster deserves to pay dearly for what he did.

    July 16, 2011 at 5:23 am |
    • Dan the Red

      well said. though I happen to be of a different theological stripe, I think you nailed it.

      July 16, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  7. SnowVeil

    Some criminals must be modern demon-possessed. Justice must be done regardless.

    July 16, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  8. audrey Rubin

    To all those who have decided this story gives you the right to make anti-semitic comments, I suggest you refrain from using anything created by Jews. This includes vaccines, medical advances, cosmetics, designer clothes, banks, computers, color TV, Google or Facebook, to name a few things. You can also stop watching movies or TV shows because almost all have been produced, written, directed and or acted in and by Jews.

    July 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • SnowVeil

      We all know the Jews are great. We just don't have such discipline or sense of purpose and urgency...

      July 16, 2011 at 12:53 am |
    • SnowVeil

      Secular Jews must stop hating God and corrupting Americans.

      July 16, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Tante Waileka

      It is very sad that the little boy died in pain and fear. But bringing up that jews make movies is a crock. Jews are involved in Hollywood to a vast extent... but their creed is 'an eye for an eye' not 'love thy enemy as thyself'. The Quality of MERCY is NOT in the jewish fatih but in the Christian faith. Remember that to the Jews there was only one Holocaust, they chose and choose to ignore the more recent holocausts and genocides, such as in Darfur, because the genocide there was against CHRISTIAN blacks. Furthermore this NYC group treats their women like slaves. Too bad for the boy, but scr*w that 'cult' because that is what it IS.

      July 16, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  9. BobMD

    Psychos and sickos exist in all cultures and religions. This has nothing to do with Judaism, folks. It's a mentally sick individual.

    July 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • ohmygod50

      You are so right. What a shame. That poor child, and his family....imagine their heartbreak. They are destroyed. Unimaginable.

      July 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  10. frewt

    These Freaks are all InBred

    July 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Dan the Red

      so, it's okay to murder children, if YOU say they're inbred? I think you need to be watched rather carefully....

      July 16, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Muneef


      Some one in other blog wrote this post;
      "Jews kill Christian babies for their blood"!!
      So what I am asking are you stating that this is now being done to InBred Jews because in your area there are not Christian neighbors ???

      July 17, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  11. audrey Rubin

    For all you anti-semites responding so viciously to the murder of this innocent child, I suggest you not use anything created by Jews. This includes vaccines, medical advances, color TV, cosmetics, designer clothes, Google and Facebook, to name just a VERY few things. Also, stop watching TV shows and movies since many Jews are involved in their production.

    July 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • mike

      It wasn't the religion that made those advances, It was the education. Besides the only ones worth of mention are the medical advances, mabey some of the tech.

      July 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  12. Muneef

    Still because this issue still I am with out sleep from the night of 14 July 10:30 PM and up to now 16 July 3:30 AM...

    Any way wanted to know if the people of the Torah would want the Sharia of their book for judgments rather than the failed seclur system or not just as the Muslim community prefer to be ruled by the Sharia for communal justice system...

    The present has no fear or respect that might have the person think twice before taking into crime but the present one seems not giving the right cure to the society or community from such acts...as seems even Religious ones became no longer fear God before the system law as they are supposed to have.... Things are going wrong from bad to worse and no change in the way when justice is the crown of peace....! God bless the righteous....

    July 15, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Muneef

      Although tonight was the middle of the holy month of Shabban considered a holy night good for prayers but rather I spent it here so may God consider it my effort for this holy night....Amen.
      Good bye I need to pray and sleep now tired....

      July 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  13. michael

    You may tie my hands with chains & my feet with shackles, and put me in the dark prison, but you shall NOT enslave my thinking, for it is free, like the breeze in the spacious sky

    rip Leiby

    July 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  14. John


    July 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  15. mike

    I don't really care for the orthodox jew religion. But who cares what religion it is. This is a just as bad as the Caylee Anthony murder. This guy should get the chair just as Casey should have. Its a sad day

    July 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  16. Deb

    A parent's worse nightmare is learning of the death of their own child! It has nothing to do with the color of skin, nationality or religion. Yes we do have problems in our country as all countries do, but as a parent my children are my flesh and blood and given to me and my husband by Almighty God. I love them very much and I do sympathize with this family. No one has the right to take another person's life. When I heard this my heart and soul just ached. It makes me want to cry every time I hear anything about it.

    July 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Hana

      Exactly! It is a horrible event. People need to stop condemning the victims and start showing compassion.

      July 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  17. Reality

    Putting Judaism in the 21st century along with all the other wayward religions:

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    "New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

    July 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Tante Waileka

      The jewish religion denies the Son of God, therefore they are not 'saved and washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb' so for them to deny the Bible is the Inspired Word of God is not unexpected. They are clearly just members of the Devil's minions. The cruel murder of the little boy is appalling, and we feel the deep pain of his survivors, but don't think this means their religion is anything but a cult.

      July 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


      July 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  18. bumcheek7

    Don't put down the Jews – ever, because they are exempt from criticism because War-Mongering Israel says so! Truly tragic for this boy, family and friends.

    July 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  19. William Demuth

    The story is allways the same.

    Point out the stupidity of the parents, your an Anti Semite.

    Point out the cult like behavior of the group and your an Anti Semite

    Point out the cult ADMITS to not involving police in identify deviance in theirs midst and your an Anti Semite.

    Basicly either you believe as they tell you and keep quiet, or they condemn you.

    I DON"T THINK SO. Break up this cult, they are dangerous. An eight year old kid was left alone to be eaten by a freaking cannibal, and all the propoganda changes nothing.

    July 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Hana

      Seriously learn your facts. It was the first time the boy was allowed to walk home alone, and the parents practiced it with him before he was allowed. The boy went missing on Monday... the family called the POLICE on Monday. The police and the community and other people searched for the boy for a few days before he was found. The guy had kept the boy safe and was playing with him but when he found out that people were searching for him, he panicked and killed him. He is a mentally unstable man. Just like any other mentally ill person in any other religious faith or community.


      July 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Mark

      It is so true William. They have been pulling that card to rip people off and do all kinds of terrible things to humanity. I think the daily nazi stories in the media is a ploy to gain sympathy so that people don't rise up against the jewish oligarchy and take them down. It will eventually happen as these people are criminals. This little boy did not deserve to be killed but how many times have you heard a story in the media about Palestinian children being killed by jews or any or their other crimes: Hardly ever!
      Google ~ Ifamericansknew

      July 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • mike

      Actually I've heard some worse storeys than this. Of jewish men getting a hold of russian orphans and making some rather nasty movies. It doesn't seem to matter what religion your talking about, there's bad people in all of them. We need to gang up on these offenders regardless of their religion. This kind of abuse should never be tolerated on this planet.

      July 15, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Ani C.

      This has nothing to do with this case.

      July 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • leia

      This is a community that has flourished much longer than most here and overseas. It teaches ideas that we couldn't come close to understanding unless you are raised in such an environment. At least they trust each other for I can trully say I would never let my child out alone free around most people where I live. Most are Megan Law registered and I live in a very rich, suburban area of South Carolina. I am proud to say that I am Jewish and I am proud to say that I am American.It is a tragedy and my heart goes out to the family. Shalom!

      July 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  20. William Demuth

    A cult is a cult, be they Jew or Gentile.

    His sect ADMITS they don't involve police in their internal problms

    Is it any surprise that they had a cannibal in their quorum?

    Actually it was a blessing he was Jewish, if the killer had been African American, Brooklyn would be in flames!

    July 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Hana

      And yet they did call the police and the man was arrested....

      Sounds like you are letting your bigotry over shadow basic human compassion. Show some respect for a family who just lost a son.

      July 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • christianmother

      Your a true idiot. And many others that I can't post.

      July 16, 2011 at 6:00 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.