Hundreds turned out on Wednesday, Isru Chag, to mourn the tragic petirah of Eliyahu Moscowitz, Hy”d, 24, who was murdered on Simchas Torah night in Chicago.
Shalom Klein, a community activist and friend of the Moscowitz family, expressed the pain that many are feeling in the wake of this horrific crime. “We are all deeply shocked,” he told Hamodia. “He was a good, gentle soul who was known and liked by so many people.”
The levayah was attended by many of Chicago’s Lubavitch community, of which the Moscowitz family have been prominent members for decades, as well as by a broad outpouring of friends and others who felt moved to grief over the heartrending event.
In accordance with Lubavitch tradition and in light of Wednesday being Isru Chag, no hespeidim were delivered at the levayah. Kevurah took place later in the afternoon at the Waldheim Cemetery.
Eliyahu Moscowitz was walking through Loyola Park at about 10:20 p.m. Sunday night when he was shot and killed by an unknown gunman. Chicago police say that the bullet was fired from the same gun that had killed 73-year-old Douglass Watts the day before.
Authorities have released an image captured on surveillance footage of a masked individual whom they suspect is responsible for both murders, which took place only a few blocks from each other.
The shootings took place in an area of Rogers Park about a half-hour’s walk from the section that is home to the city’s main Orthodox community.
Simchas Torah (Tuesday) saw an increased police presence in the area where the crime occurred as the investigation proceeded, as well as a stepped-up presence of officers in West Rogers Park, home to dozens of shuls and many of the area’s Orthodox families.
Police have not identified the suspect or suggested any motive for the crimes and say that both shootings appear to have been random. Witnesses describe the killer as a black male wearing dark clothing. No items were taken from either of the victims, and the two men had no known connection to each other.
As of Wednesday afternoon, no arrests had been made, leaving many in the community on edge.
“People will go about their daily lives. But we want it to be done in a safe way. A smart and vigilant way,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Plans were in place for a meeting between police authorities and representatives of the Orthodox community to discuss security concerns.
“It’s known as a safe area, but there has been an uptick in crime, and, as you can imagine, this has people worried,” said Mr. Klein.
Eliyahu Moscowitz was born and raised in Chicago’s West Rogers Park community. Ybl”c, his father, Rabbi Mendel Moscowitz, serves as a Rebbi in the Seymour J. Abrams Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School of Skokie and his mother, Mrs. Chana Moscowitz, works as a teacher in the girls’ division of the school.
Sadly, it was not the first tragedy faced by the family. Levi Moscowitz, z”l, Eliyahu’s brother, was niftar several years ago at a young age.
The Moscowitz family has served a central role in Chicago’s Jewish community for decades and Rabbi Doniel Moscowitz, zt”l, Eliyahu’s uncle, served as regional director of Lubavitch in Illinois until his passing in 2014.
After several years in Chicago’s Lubavitch educational system, Eliyahu studied in a Chabad yeshivah in France for some time. Since his return to Chicago a few years ago, he had worked as a kashrus supervisor at the Jewel-Osco supermarket.
He was exceptionally fond of travel, and made several long journeys in which he visited with the many family members who serve as shluchim around the globe. With his natural sense of charm, Eliyahu built a broad base of friends, both within the community as well as with co-workers and others.
“He had a tremendous amount of chein; just seeing his smile could make people happier,” said Mr. Klein. “He was loved by so many people. It’s a terrible loss for us all.”