Sisterhood Blog

How Etan Changed Us

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

  • Print
  • Share Share
Wikimedia Commons
Etan Patz

A renewed search for Etan Patz’s remains has concluded. Nothing was found.

The 6-year-old boy allowed to walk to his school bus in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood on a May morning in 1979 never made it. Instead, he was kidnapped, and his parents had ripped from them the chance to tuck him into bed each night and raise him to be a good boy, kind and sweet and loving.

Etan’s murder led to many things: National Missing Children’s Day, each May 25, the anniversary of his disappearance. It began a national conversation about how independent we can afford to let our children be — and that conversation continues to this day and again moved the fore, following the abduction and murder, last year, of little Leiby Kletzky, in Boro Park.

But what it has not led to is any sense of peace for Etan’s parents, Stanley and Julia Patz. In what ways do they mark their boy’s death, in the absence of knowing when it was, exactly, or how he was killed. Does his mother still look for her son among the towheads of other children when she passes a playground? Does she imagine what he would look like now, as a 39-year-old man? Do they light yarzheit candles? Is there a day when either of them wakes up without grief filling their chests even before they open their eyes?

The Patzes have declined to speak with the press now, and for good reason. It is painful just to imagine how difficult it must be to try to regain any fragment of equilibrium they have attained in the 33 years since their boy was snatched from their lives. As a reporter, I know I should try and call them, anyway, even just for this blog post. But as a mother, I can’t bear to.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: National Missing Children's Day, Parenting, Missing Children, Leiby Kletzky, Helicopter Parents, Etan Patz

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.