Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Leiby Forever - Lipa Schmeltzer

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Lipa Schmeltzer, a popular and high-profile singer in the Hasidic community, chanted a Yiddish song to the boy’s younger sister to comfort her.

The popular performer — little Lieby’s favorite — didn’t sing the piece because mourners are not supposed to hear music for a year after a death. But Schmeltzer said that after Lieby’s dad told him a story about his only son, Schmeltzer formulated a story and called it: “As Long as You’re Alive.” And then he chanted the story to Lieby’s sister, Nechama.

“One day he tripped and fell down on the way to school and his father was sympathetic and Leiby looked at the father and said, ‘Remember the words As Long as You’re Alive.’ He was three years old,” Schmeltzer said.

Schmeltzer also said he was moved by the numbers of people who were gathering to offer solace to the Keitzky family at their Borough Park home.
“There were lines and lines. I never saw anything like it,” he said. “The people are very shattered and broken.”

The performer noted that Lieby’s father, Nachman, was devastated by his only son’s grisly death and dismemberment, allegedly at the hands of Levi Aron.

“He is very broken but he’s keeping very strong,” Schmeltzer said. “He said he had the honor to have the soul for nine years.”

Schmeltzer said he’s now working on a song called “The Story of Leiby,” based on what he believes the child — described as devout beyond his years — would have been like if he’d grown to be a grandfather.

“Everything came to an end because of that black day that we had,” the performer said. “All the goodness that came from Leiby is now vanished.”
He also said he’s been amazed by the comments from others who knew the remarkable youngster.

“The stories we heard are unbelievable,” he said. “One story is that they were playing a game in class. At the last minute, Leiby switched teams. Why did he switch? He said, ‘Because my team keeps winning and they keep losing, and I want to help them win.’

“He was a very smart boy.”