After almost 16 months with no word from son, Israeli mother ‘feels he’s still alive’

Although massive searches for Moishe Kleinerman have been fruitless, his mother has not lost hope.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Giti Kleinerman has not heard a word from her son Moishe in almost 16 months, but insists that she has not lost hope of finding him alive, she told Ynet Monday.

The ultra-Orthodox Kleinerman, whose boy would be 17 by now, said the Modiin Illit family is “in constant contact with the police,” whom she says “are making a lot of efforts.” The family, too, is “constantly trying new directions, and to find from every angle some kind of clue that will point to what happened.”

“As a mother, I feel he’s alive and is somewhere,” she said, adding that “one day the mystery will be solved.”

“I hope that the police will be able to solve the case,” she said. “As his mother, I want him home and I don’t care how. The police have a lot of abilities, means and resources, I just expect them to be serious and responsible, and want to see that they really work and try to find him and they don’t just say they do,” she said.

The search for Moishe is being conducted by a team of hundreds of investigators established for him alone, but the investigation began 10 days after he went missing. This is considered a critical time period, as most missing persons are found within the first few days of their disappearance.

His mother had spoken to him on the phone when he was on a bus going to Meron in northern Israel on March 25, 2022, with some friends. Although she wanted him to call more often, the then-16-year-old felt it was enough to call his parents once a week before the Sabbath, as many yeshiva students do, and so they simply assumed he had gone back to his school on Saturday night. They were not overly concerned because Moishe was “an independent child,” Kleinerman said, who would often go alone to visit the graves of the righteous, even those in Arab villages.

When several days passed and Moishe didn’t call, however, they got worried and started calling his friends, but no one had seen him. That’s when they got the police involved, who blamed the parents for not informing them earlier.

Security cameras on Mount Meron caught him on film, showing that he stayed at the mountain grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a famed Jewish sage, over that first Sabbath. The police also learned that he’d told his friends that he was going to spend some time alone in a hasidic rite called hitbodedut, where one tries to reach higher levels of spirituality by praying and thinking in solitude. And then he vanished.

The Israel Dog Unit, whose volunteers look for for missing persons with specially trained search-and-rescue canines, conducted dozens of searches in the hills and fields around Meron in the days and months following his disappearance.

Unit director Mike Ben Yaakov told Walla at the anniversary of Moishe’s disappearance that “Mount Miron is the Bermuda Triangle of the missing. We have four missing persons who disappeared in the area there and have not been located to this day…. [Moishe’s] profile is very challenging because he is a guy who was not afraid to walk around and travel, even in Arab villages and in the middle of the night.”

In that light, in June 2022, the American Jewish Ami Magazine published an unconfirmed report that the teen had been spotted in Hungary the previous month and that the information was given to the Israel Police, but nothing came of it.

In August 2022, reservists of the army’s missing persons’ unit tried with their special skills as well as dogs to comb the Meron area again, and in December, police detectives and dog units renewed their search of the region after obtaining new, unspecified information, with no success.

In general, the authorities have instituted a gag order on the details of the investigation in an effort to help them solve the mystery. Reports did surface a few times of suspects being arrested in the case over the last year and a third, but they were all subsequently released from custody.

We will not let up until we understand what happened to him,” Police Chief Kobi Shabtai promised the family.