Diary of Deep DistressDate: July 20, 2011
The horror and grief that has assailed our community over the past week was felt throughout the city and around the globe. People all over the world sighed with disbelief when the shocking reports were released last Tuesday. In fact, Misaskim received inquires and offers of assistance from London, Israel, Australia, South Africa, Germany, and Mexico. Hundreds of millions of people anxiously monitored the news during this tragedy and then grieved, together with the Kletzky family. Politics didn't matter. Neither did nationality or religion. Everyone was impacted in a deep and painful way, including Misaskim volunteers who stood on the frontlines and who were deeply involved in coordinating whatever was needed during this crisis.
Monday, July 12, 2011: As soon as Misaskim was notified about the missing child, our dedicated volunteers joined in the search for Leiby a"h. Other volunteers were called in to dispatch Misaskim's light towers to various locations into which Leiby was thought to have possibly wandered in error - such as empty fields, cemeteries, or dark alleyways. A command center was set up at the day camp that Leiby attended and where he was last accounted for. Misaskim's professionalism played a key role in soliciting both unprecedented resources from the NYPD, as well as an army of people to assist the thousands already searching.
Tuesday, July 13, 2011: Sadly, Misaskim has witnessed many tragedies over the last three decades that were difficult to bear. Yet, nothing compared to the anguish the detectives and Misaskim volunteers experienced when Leiby's body was recovered Tuesday night. The intense anguish reflected on their faces delivered the unspeakable message that words could not express. The NYPD reached out to Misaskim for assistance in notifying the parents about the death of their child. No matter how many years of professional experience and training one has had, nothing can prepare one for the tragic task of delivering such horrifying news to a bereft family. In the wee hours of the morning Misaskim activated its Crisis Intervention Team and joined with Chai Lifeline's Project C.H.A.I. to provide emotional support for the Kletzky family.
Wednesday, July 14, 2011: There was no time for our volunteers to express their sorrow or deal with the crushing pain, because this heiligah niftar's body had to be prepared for burial. Law enforcement officials forcefully responded to this appalling crime and every bit of evidence was examined and retained. Misaskim volunteers were in attendance as the investigation process was conducted, to ensure the utmost kavod hames. Once they were directed to do so by law enforcement, they promptly began the avodas hakodesh of collecting the body and coordinating with the Medical Examiner's Office and other agencies to facilitate the release of theniftar. Finally, they began the sorrowful task of conducting the taharah. Throughout the day, Misaskim exerted every effort to bring the young niftar to kvurah so that his neshamah may finally find the ultimate consolation and rest.
Simultaneously, preparations for the levayah began. Tens of thousands were expected to pay their final respects and Misaskim had only a few hours in which to make the necessary arrangements. This was a tremendous task as every detail - from bringing in the sanitation department to clean up the area to preparing with the NYPD for crowd management - had to be carefully planned. Volunteers from surrounding areas were called in to assist with the chairs, lighting, sound systems and numerous other preparations. Misaskim estimates that nearly 12,000 bottles of water were distributed during the levayah. According to the NYPD, more than 10,000 people attended the funeral, including numerous gedolei hador and politicians.
Thursday, July 15, 2011: The crowds dispersed and most people returned home grappling with a sense of shock, fear, and pain. But even after being involved in all the activities catalogued above, Misaskim had not yet completed its mission. The organization's Crisis Intervention Team, together with Chai Lifeline's Project C.H.A.I., expanded its response to support the mourning family and comfort the grieving community as more details came to light. Misaskim also took care of the needs most commonly associated with it - it delivered shivah chairs along with various other items from its g'mach nechumim, to the shivah home.
As the crowds continue to stream toward the Kletzky's home in the scorching heat to offer condolences, Misaskim continues to strive to live up to its mission; understanding tragedy with compassion - coordinating crisis with expertise.