The Power of Community and Just One Person


Last night all of Jewish Brooklyn heard heart-stopping news: A young boy, 6-year-old Yosef Shapiro, had gone missing. Many minds immediately went to the same dark place: Another young boy, Leiby Klezky, went missing in Brooklyn a decade ago and was found brutally murdered by a member of his own community. After both Klezky and Shapiro went missing, the entire community immediately fanned out and covered the maximum ground possible to find the young boy.

Thank God, the story of Yosef Shapiro ended differently than that of Leiby Kletzky and was found alive and safe. Immediately, the searchers affiliated with every specialized emergency service in the Brooklyn Jewish community (ambulance, police, etc) broke out into song and dance:

It was a beautiful and moving reminder of the vital importance of community at a time that community is more fractured than ever.

We don’t just need to be reminded how important it is to be part of a community, but to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. One of the searchers, Victor Shine, was that person.

In an interview posted on the Lakewood Scoop (a local Jewish news site in the heavily Orthodox town of Lakewood, NJ), the man responsible for breaking the case and finding Yosef explained how he came to be the pivitol person in the search involving hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow Jews. He explained his apprehension going out to search (it was overcast, he was tired, does anyone want to rush out the door and walk around the neighborhood for hours after a long day of work?) but his mind wandered to his own six-year-old grandson. Thinking of that grandson, thinking of “what if this were him” got him out the door.

When he arrived at the scene he decided to just start searching, instead of waiting with everyone else for instructions. He walked for over an hour calling out Yosef’s name before hearing his tiny voice, just once, leading Shine to call the police officer in charge of the search. Tearfully he explained, “I can’t even tell you how shaken I remain, even this morning. It just shows that one person can make a difference. Just go. Just do. My mother used to say just go and do. Who am I? I’m just some old 56-year-old guy. But it apparently  made a difference, right when they were giving up hope.  Right when the sun was already set and the rain started coming down, eliminating any trail. You just keep going. You just do, and you don’t worry about looking stupid or feeling stupid. You just do. I’m so thankful that I got to be part of the story. And that the boy is okay, and  the family is okay. And Klal Yisrael (the Jewish people) is going to be okay.”

These kind of human interest stories are less frequently reported these days; we’re more consumed with our fractured politics and COVID. We’re all more invested in being angry than reporting on a young boy gone missing and returned home in one evening. But maybe we’d be less angry, less fractured, if we spent a night like Victor Shine did.

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There are 3 comments.

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  1. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell

    Thank you for a very heart-warming and joyous report. We need to see more like it from the media.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    When I was visiting the iwe family one time, a child had gone missing. The whole community rallied in a similar way, and it had a good ending as well. Baruch HaShem.

    • #2
  3. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt

    Just go. Just do.

    Words to live by.

    • #3
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