Chicago Pays Tribute to R’ Ephraim Moscowitz on Shloshim

A shloshim gathering was held in Chicago to mark 30 days since the passing of R’ Ephraim Moscowitz, a pillar and founder of the local anash community, with speakers sharing their fond memories and profound lessons they learned from him.


A shloshim gathering was held in Chicago to mark 30 days since the passing of R’ Ephraim Moscowitz, a pillar and founder of the local anash community, with speakers sharing their fond memories and profound lessons they learned from him.

A large crowd of men and women from the community joined the shloshim at FREE of Chicago, gathering to celebrate the memory and legacy of ‘R’ Ephraim,’ as he was fondly known.

MC and guest speaker for the evening was Rabbi Shalom Lubin, shliach to Parsippany, NJ. Rabbi Lubin grew up with R’ Ephraim and was a student of his in addition to being a close family friend. He shared close personal memories of the decades he knew R’ Ephraim.

Other speakers included host Rabbi Levi Notik of FREE of Chicago, Harav Boruch Hertz, rov of anash in Chicago, Rabbi Baruch Epstein of Beis Menachem where R’ Efraim  was a long-time member, and Mr. Shmuel Goodman.

Family members of R’ Ephraim who were in attendance also spoke including R’ Ephraim’s sons, Rabbi Moshe Moscowitz, R’ Eli Moscowitz, and Rabbi Mendel Moscowitz, and his grandson Rabbi Yosef Shmuel Moscowitz.

R’ Ephraim’s great-grandson, Tzvi Moskowitz made a Siyum Mishnayos in honor of the shloshim.

Throughout the night, stories were told of R’ Ephraim’s simchas hachim and joy through life. Speakers recalled how he had a talent for looking for the positive side of things and sharing that perspective with others. A video was also shown of R’ Ephraim sharing his experiences with the Friediker Rebbe, including his yechidus, and witnessing his tearful Rosh Hashana davening.


Memories shared by Rabbi Shalom Lubin: 

My earliest memory of Mr. Moscowitz was a teaching moment that I’ve lived with ever since. It was a Shabbos afternoon, probably 1984, and our families bumped into each other on the corner of Arthur and Whipple – right in from of Alex Eisenberg’s steps. He put his hand out to me and said Good Shabbos, and he then proceeded to educate six- year old me, in great detail and with much fanfare, as to the appropriate way to shake hands with someone.


And for the next nearly 40 years, every single time I saw him, I shook his hand firmly, looked him in the eye, and we would both smile.

His lesson, like all his lessons, was important, relevant, and insightful, and the extra drama just made it a little more memorable.

I think what made him so uniquely impactful was the fact that he educated, taught, and inspired not from the Rabbi platform, but rather from the “I’m just a regular guy” relatable perspective.

I once asked my father at a Chicago farbrengen when I was pretty young if I could have tomato and onion salad, and my father said, “you’re not going to like it, it’s not really for kids”. Mr. Moscowitz was sitting nearby and said, “LET HIM HAVE SOME, IT’LL PUT HAIR ON HIS CHEST!”

Every year on Purim we would go over to Rebbetzin Hecht’s house after the LCI Purim event, and Mr. and Mrs. Moscowitz, Mr. and Mrs. Izzy Nathan, and Mrs. And YBLCT Chazzan Silber were always there as guests for the Seudah. It was obvious that they were the living history of Anash and  Chabad in Chicago.

Mr. Moscowitz was our 7th-grade teacher, and his teaching skill and wealth of knowledge were most impressive. One boy in the class quoted his highly-educated parent as saying that no one ever can list all 50 states by memory- they always leave one out. Mr. Moscowitz stopped his lesson and proceeded to list all 50 states in geographic order.

His antics at school were legendary. He would walk over to the youngest kids in the hallway and say, “HEY KID, GIMME ALL YOUR CORN CHIPS!” When things got a little rowdy and he wanted to get our attention, his line was, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS IS….ANYHOW???

I remember him saying that since he was used to having a house of boys, one time when they hosted a few girls for Shabbos, and one of the girls asked if she could help before Shabbos, he suggested that she take the vacuum cleaner and vacuum the living room. It was Mrs. Moscowitz who informed him that that wasn’t what the girl had in mind….

Shabbos Chaya Sarah Nun Beis, he came to Anshei Lubavitch with me, Moshe Krakowski and Meir Nitekman. When we stopped by the house to pick him up on Shabbos morning, he showed us the wrapped nitroglycerin pill he was putting inside his hatband. “IF I COLLAPSE ON THE WAY, JUST TAKE THIS PILL, PUT IT UNDER MY TONGUE, FIND A PAYPHONE, CALL 911, AND TELL THEM WHERE THE BODY IS LAYING,” he told us. We were both amused and terrified.  

On the way to Shul he regaled us with stories of the old neighborhood and pointed out to us all the buildings that had become drug dens. After laining he got up and gave a speech, highlighting and showing respect to his mother-in-law Mrs. Smidt, who was a resident there at the time. Back at the house, he insisted we each eat a bowl of Cholent with knaidelach (“NOT KISHKE, THESE ARE KNAIDELACH”) before letting us go.

At the shiva for Rabi Daniel Moscowitz, a”h his strength and fortitude was incredible. A very well-respected Rov came in with a very serious look came in and sat down. He turned to the Rov and said “VOS IS MIT DI LANGE PUNIM? THIS IS NOT A LITVISHE SHIVA HOUSE!”

Over the past 8 years or so, I tried to visit whenever I was down in Florida, and those times together, just the three of us, were treasured moments I will always cherish.

I find it ironic that his English name was Frank, since to me, that’s what we was; he was always very frank. If you deserved credit, he gave it. If you deserved critique, he gave it. If something was on his mind, he said it, and said it loudly. No fluff, no games, we just said the unvarnished truth as he saw it, and people accepted it coming from him.

He was always comfortable in his own skin, he never put on a show to impress anyone. If he was holding by something in Yiddishkeit or Chassidishkeit, he did it. If he wasn’t, he respected the people that did, yet remained comfortable where he was.

A few weeks ago at Buckingham, he wasn’t eating much, so when my father stopped in to visit he tried encouraging him to eat a little bit. When his efforts failed, my father asked, “Why are you so stubborn? To which Mr. Moscowitz replied, “I HAVE A LOT OF PRACTICE!” 

Mr. Moscowitz made me laugh. He made everyone laugh. For that, and for so much more, I will forever be grateful.

Efraim comes from the words Ki Hifrani Elokim- Hashem made me fruitful.

Indeed, Hashem bentched Efraim and Tzivia Moscowitz with generations and generations of wonderfully fruitful descendants, who were and continue to be blessed to look up to this wonderful and inspirational couple, who in their unique and remarkable lives, changed us all for the better.

May we be reunited quickly, with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkenu

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