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Jul 13 2011

For Leiby Kletzky

By at 3:03 pm

Leiby Kletzky

When I woke up this morning, there were a number of angry emails on my local parent listserv in Brooklyn. People were complaining that they had been woken up the day before by an “Orthodox Jewish organization” calling too early, waking up their kids.

As it turns out, those were volunteers trying to help locate an 8-year-old Hasidic boy named Leiby Kletzky, who disappeared on Monday after convincing his parents to let him walk home by himself from camp. They waited outside, but he never arrived.

The boy went missing and then the worst possible news was announced this morning. The boy had been abducted and brutally murdered. I’ll spare you the details because they’re too heinous to digest. And while it’s the kind of thing that would have always horrified me, as a parent, I’m horrified by it on a whole new level.

Of course, parents on my local listserv apologized once they realized why the phone had been ringing. And, it was amazing to watch the way the Orthodox Jewish community responded. Hundreds of volunteers mobilized to look for the boy, arriving by the busload from all pockets of the city. Phone calls were made. Within hours, $100,000 was raised as a reward for information leading to an arrest.

In the end, none of it could help. The boy was dead. A man was found and arrested.

It’s a cliche to say that this is every parent’s nightmare. But it is. So, let’s take a moment to think about Leiby. And his family.

Jan 20 2011

It’s Not Just About The Borscht

By at 9:38 am

russia and brooklyn

I live in one of the most family friendly neighborhoods in New York City. So domestic that one website blamed it for the semi-recent breakup of Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal (MOT!) because they just weren’t ready for the pregnancy/baby/dog-loving vibe.

So I’m used to seeing playgroups, music classes, baby swim lessons, baby yoga, mommy yoga, mommy and baby yoga, toddler yoga…anything that you can dream up for a child, it exists here in Park Slope. And I hear about all of it on what some call the Brooklyn Mafia, the Park Slope Parents listserv. But I hadn’t seen this yet. Starting on Sunday, January 23, there’s a Mommy & Me class for Russian-speaking Jewish parents called TotTussovka. Personally, I’ve always been really intrigued by Russian Jewry. My great-grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Russia in the early 1900’s, and I grew up in the era of campaigns to support Soviet Jewry. The band Safam wrote a song called Leaving Mother Russia and I used to blast this anthem (on tape) in my room. (Yes, I am a Jewish dork. If you, unlike me, were less dorky in the 80’s, you can find everything you need to know about the Soviet Jewry movement in Gal Beckerman’s book, When They Come For Us We’ll Be Gone).

Though I’m not really into borscht. Strange, I know.

Anyway, the point is, I’m totally excited about these classes. It seems that there’s a huge Russian Jewish population here in brownstone Brooklyn, and they want their kids to have a high-quality program focused on arts and culture. TotTussovka is sponsored by the Jewish Community House of Brooklyn and the UJA-Federation of New York.

Here’s what they have to say about it: “Instill a love for Russian language and Jewish traditions in your child through interactive play in a fun and imaginative environment. Each sixty minute program is led by a bilingual musician/educator who sings and plays an instrument.  You and your child will love our Russian sing along, storytelling time, imaginative play, language activities, dancing, and games.”

They had an event a couple of months ago with a famous Russian artist named Zhenya Plechkina, and they plan to do additional holiday programs throughout the spring. They want you to pre-register, because space is limited.

I kind of really wish I spoke Russian.

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