On March 26, 16-year-old Moishe Kleinerman went missing after spending Shabbos in Meron. Since then, no one has seen or heard from him. Moishe’s story hasn’t picked up steam in the way that many other missing persons cases have. I visited his parents in their humble home in the chareidi neighborhood of Modiin Illit.
By the time you read these words, Moishe will have been missing for 80 days and nights.
Moishe’s father, Shmuel Kleinerman, a kollel yungerman with a brown beard and curly peiyos, opens the door to the apartment and invites me in. Moishe’s mother, Gitty, a diet consultant, soon joins us at the dining room table. Even after all they’ve been through in the recent days-turned-weeks-turned-months, Shmuel and Gitty are trying to remain calm and collected. These parents who are experiencing something that no one should ever have to experience are rock solid in their emunah.
The Last Phone Call
“The Shabbos before he disappeared, Moishe joined a group led by Rav Yoel Roth on a trip to Meron. Rav Roth had been visiting Israel from Williamsburg,” Shmuel says as he begins to describe the ordeal.
“Moishe was very curious,” Gitty explains. “He heard that Rav Roth was in Israel, and he wanted to attend some of his shiurim. He heard there was going to be an event here in Modiin, so we said we’d meet him there. We went, but Moishe didn’t show up. That night, he stayed with my mother in Yerushalayim; she called to tell me that he was with her. I was sure he’d stay there for Shabbos too. But then on Erev Shabbos at 2:30 p.m., he called me to say that he was on a bus to Meron to be with Rav Yoel Roth and his chevrah for Shabbos.”
Shmuel says, “He actually called me earlier in the day and asked if he could go to Meron. I said, ‘Why not come home for Shabbos?’ He said many people were going and he wanted to join. So I said, ‘If you want to go, go.’”
Gitty describes her last conversation with Moishe: “At the time, our family needed a different yeshuah so I asked him to daven for us. My husband and I both bentch our kids every Erev Shabbos, so I bentched him then, and I told him that I wished he was home with us. I told him that we missed him..”
After Moishe went missing, the Kleinermans reached out to the people who Moishe was with that Shabbos, but it appears that nothing was amiss. “They said that everything was fine until right after Maariv. That’s the last time anyone saw him,” says Gitty.
The room he stayed in also did not reveal any clues. “He didn’t take things with him,” Shmuel says. “He went with clothing and that’s it.”
Gitty adds, “He was dressed in his Shabbos clothes, and he was planning to go back to Yerushalayim right after Shabbos.”
Moishe did have a phone, though he didn’t always keep it turned on. “A few weeks before he disappeared, he accidentally left it in someone’s car and he never got it back,” Shmuel says. “When he called us from the bus on Friday afternoon, he was using a phone that he borrowed from another boy who was also going to spend Shabbos with Rav Roth. He told us that if we needed to reach him, we could call that boy. When a few days passed and we didn’t hear from Moishe, we called that boy’s phone, but he didn’t answer.”