The Associated Press is reporting via Haaretz and Gothamist that last night’s funeral of Leiby Kletzky drew as many as 8,000 mourners. The funeral, which was held entirely in Yiddish, brought Ultra Orthodox Jews from throughout the New York metropolitan area to Borough Park’s Hechal Hatfila temple.
The overflowing crowd of attendees entered the courtyard of the synagogue, with men separated from women as per religious custom, praying inside as NYPD officers and members of the Shomrim community patrol kept order on the street outside.
Leiby Klezky’s father began the service with a speech at around 10 pm.
The service began shortly before 10 p.m. and was marked by a speech from the boy’s father, whose voice shook as he stood before the crowd and addressed his dead son, saying in Yiddish that he was lucky to have had him, if only for nine years. The boy would have turned 9 this month.
“Thank God we had him,” he said, according to a translator.
And then, overcome by emotion, he went silent. A moment later, the principal of Leiby’s school spoke.
“He got lost, he got lost,” he said, according to the translator. “There’s nothing to say, he got lost. God wanted it.”
Several rabbis also spoke in Yiddish, repeatedly breaking down. They extolled the boy’s good qualities and reminded the community to be careful, urging the adults to protect their children. At one point the rabbi of the synagogue that Leiby attended recalled the boy’s devotion to his studies.
It rained early yesterday evening, although the morning’s forecast didn’t call for it. Like an outburst from the bereaved, the drops came down suddenly and without warning. After a 30-45 minute shower, the clouds cleared and a cool dry wind took over as night approached. In what must have seemed like a gift from heaven, pious mourners, many of whom wore wool suits, felt relief from the summer heat as they grieved. Those in attendance may have been reminded of Job’s reaction to the deaths of his children.
“And [Job] said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away.”