In accordance with Jewish custom, little Leiby Kletzky's tombstone was unveiled at a New Jersey cemetery Monday, 11 months after his gruesome murder.
The small gathering of men clad in dark suits and black hats eyed the new grave stone with deep emotion. The eight-year-old boy had disappeared after leaving his day camp, and was later discovered dead, his body dismembered by the man who encountered him on the street.
Levi Aron had confessed to the murder, saying he brought the boy to his own home, drugging him before he smothered him. Parts of his body were found in Aron's freezer – other parts were found in a suitcase tossed into a dumpster a mile away. The murder shocked the entire neighborhood, which has a high percentage of Chassidic Jews, and prompted the creation of a project to install security cameras to prevent another such tragedy.
Now, not quite a year later, the male members of Leiby's family were joined by Rabbi Binyomin Eisenberger and about two dozen others at the Washington Cemetery in Deans, New Jersey.
The group bore witness to the inscription on the grey granite stone that described the little boy as a sacrifice for the People of Israel, ultimately to serve as an inspiration for Jews worldwide.
Leiby was “loved by all who knew him...he was filled with excellent qualities … he thirsted for the word of G-d and His commandments … and had a pleasant demeanor for those who knew him, and for his teachers,” the inscription said.
Following the traditional recitation of Psalms, the prayer Kel Malei Rachamim was chanted, followed by Acheinu. Each member of the group placed a stone upon the grave, also in accordance with Jewish tradition, prior to leaving the site.
As is customary in Chasidic communities, immediately following the ceremony, participants traveled to Bais Sarah in the Boro Park neighborhood of Brooklyn in which Leiby lived. There the rabbi of “Heichal HaTefillah,” Rabbi Eisenberg, addressed diners at a meal filled with words of inspiration and prayer.
A Torah scroll is currently being be written in Leiby's memory under the sponsorship of the little boy's relatives, and is set to be completed next winter.