The eight-year-old Brooklyn boy whose abduction and murder in New York sent waves of shock and sadness around the world found his final resting place in New Jersey.
Leiby Kletzky, whose dismembered body was discovered by police in Brooklyn on July 13, was buried in the pre-dawn darkness on July 14 in a South Brunswick cemetery used by a number of hasidic movements.
A funeral procession of more than 500 people arrived at about 12:30 a.m. at the Floral Park Cemetery in South Brunswick, which runs contiguous to Washington Cemetery.
Rabbi Mendy Carlebach of the Chabad of North and South Brunswick, a police chaplain for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and South Brunswick police department, coordinated the logistical arrangements after receiving a text message from a hasidic New York City police chaplain.
Carlebach told NJJN the procession was escorted to the Goethals Bridge by New York City police, after which he arranged with local police departments in New Jersey to have it escorted to the cemetery. The New Jersey State Police escorted the contingent down the New Jersey Turnpike.
“I contacted our mayor, Frank Gambatese, and police chief and kept them informed,” said Carlebach. Additionally, he said, arrangements were also made with two Lakewood Orthodox organizations to provide lighting and generators. The Lakewood branch of the Orthodox-staffed Hatzolah Emergency Medical Service also had ambulances and personnel on standby, said Carlebach.
Because about 15,000 had attended the funeral in Borough Park, Brooklyn, hours earlier, local authorities were prepared to handle half that amount at the cemetery, but the crowd was held down by the late hour, said Carlebach. Local police remained at the scene for crowd control until about 2 a.m.
The early morning burial, which caused no traffic problems, was in sharp contrast to the scene 11 years ago when the funeral of the Bobov Grand Rebbe Shlomo Halberstam brought some 10,000 mourners to the cemetery with little notice. That funeral caused a traffic jam along Route 130 and surrounding roads and blocked access to local businesses, gas stations, and strip malls for a good part of the day.
A number of New York-based hasidic movements have purchased plots at the South Brunswick cemeteries since the end of World War II, amid concerns about future availability of cemetery space in New York City. Among those buried there are two grand rebbes of the Bobov movement as well as top religious leaders of other dynasties.
“Our cemeteries meet their needs,” general manager Rabbi Leonard Auerbach told NJJN. “We can bury on short notice in an expeditious manner as required by Jewish law, including on legal holidays.”
Auerbach said cemetery officials found out at about 5:30 p.m. on July 13, the day of the funeral, that Leiby would be buried there.
Levi Aron likely will be indicted next week on murder and kidnapping charges, an unnamed source in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office told the NY1 television station. Aron, whose attorney reportedly said his client hears voices, underwent a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation over the weekend.
Aron was arraigned July 13 on charges of murder and kidnapping. Despite a confession to police, he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The boy’s family members, who are sitting shiva in their Brooklyn home, have refused to make any public statements, but left a note outside their building that read in part, “From the depths of our mourning hearts, thank you.”
Aron allegedly kidnapped Leiby after he asked for directions while walking home from day camp by himself for the first time.
Carlebach was struck by how deeply Leiby’s horrific death affected so many people across a spectrum of religions and ethnicities.
“I saw an unmarked police car and a man leaning up against it off by himself,” he recalled. “I went up to him because I know all the South Brunswick police and I didn’t recognize him. It turned out he was the chief of the Jamesburg police. Because of his position he had heard Leiby was being buried here and wanted to come and pay his respects. And this was at 1 a.m.”
JTA contributed to this article