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!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • 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.