Sisterhood Blog

Etan Patz and the End of Hope

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

wikimedia commons
Etan Patz in 1978.

When I heard the news that Etan Patz’s killer had confessed to the police, my heart sank. One would imagine there might be relief that this 33-year-old case, which changed laws and altered the way many of us would come to mother our children, could finally be considered solved. And yet.

Yet my heart plummeted at the thought that the tiniest shred of hope that somehow, somewhere, Etan remained alive, is now extinguished.

Etan’s parents, sister and brother have suffered unimaginable sorrow. I can’t fathom what this development does to a mother the day before the anniversary of her cherished 6-year-old’s disappearance. Just a month ago she and the rest of her family had to suffer through another media siege when the basement of a building near their Soho home was excavated. Police thought that Etan’s remains might have been interred there by his murderer.

While the current suspect, Pedro Hernandez, has reportedly admitted to having committed this profoundly abhorrent crime, the case is not over.

We are now just a few days from Shavuot, as we were the day 6-year-old Etan disappeared from the street in lower Manhattan as he walked to the school bus for the very first time. Shavuot commemorates the day the Jewish people were given the Torah by God, and marks a turning point in the Exodus narrative that begins with Passover.

This year, in particular, Etan and his family will be in my Shavuot prayers. I will pray that Hernandez’s confession proves to be a turning point and that God grants them the redemption of a conclusion, whatever form it can possibly take when it is your sweet child who is snatched from the sidewalk on a fine spring day, and never again comes home.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Missing Children, Etan Patz, Abduction

How Etan Changed Us

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

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.

Read more


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

After Leiby's Murder, Teaching Our Kids To Be Street-Smart

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

The details of the murder last week of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky are heart-rending. It was an act of evil that recalls the first time in modern memory that a stranger abducted a child off the streets of New York City. That child was also a young Jewish boy, Etan Patz, who had, like Leiby, begged his parents to allow him to walk alone, in that 1979 case to the school bus stop. This week, Leiby was trying to walk home from day camp.

There has been a plethora of coverage of Leiby Kletzky’s murder, including this New York Times piece about the ultra-Orthodox community’s tendency to view Jews as “safe,” and non-Jews (or those who appear not to be Jewish) as dangerous.

As Etan’s father, Stanley Patz, told Clyde Haberman this week, “children are vulnerable.” Most children Leiby’s age, especially in the ultra-Orthodox community, don’t understand the danger that strangers — even Jewish ones — can present. One of the nice things about children in Haredi communities is that, protected from television news and reality garbage (since most Haredi families do not have televisions), they have the sweetness of childhood on them for as long as possible.

There is also that “double standard” that Joseph Berger writes about in The Times.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Haredi, Etan Patz, Abduction, Leiby Kletzky, Murder




Find us on Facebook!
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • How did Tariq Abu Khdeir go from fun-loving Palestinian-American teen to international icon in just a few short weeks? http://jd.fo/d4kkV
  • 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.