No doubt the recent brutal abduction and murder of young Leiby Kletzky, which took place within the insular Borough Park Jewish community, has shocked many and has shaken the sense of security that many parents, especially Orthodox Jewish parents, have felt.
This week, I attended a community meeting in Teaneck in which the Teaneck police, including Chief of Police Robert Wilson, rabbis, and mental health experts, addressed these concerns. Strategies for keeping our children safe were emphasized, including an emphasis on speaking with and listening to our children, making sure that children are properly supervised, and providing strategies for what children might do if confronted with various threatening situations.
Many have expressed surprise that an Orthodox Jew could have allegedly done such a heinous crime. But, we must remember that Orthodox Jewish communities are composed of many different kinds of people. We are not immune from the human condition and to human frailties. There are those with psychopathology among us. Child abuse exists in our community, as does domestic violence. Denial of these problems does not make them go away. Children do need guidance and we do need to take reasonable precautions. We should not overreact, however. Our children should not be taught to fear the world around them and our community. We need to raise children who trust others and feel they are part of their communities. The sad fate of Leiby Kletzky reminds us that we must teach caution and teach children how to be safe. But we need to temper this caution lest our children grow up too sheltered and suspicious. When was it ever easy to be a parent?