The funeral service for 13-year-old Moshe Simcha Moskowitz, son of Rabbi Doniel and Tamara Moskowitz, Dec. 15 at Sol Levinson & Bros. attracted mourners numbering in the hundreds — the chapel, which seats 500 to 600 people, overflowed to fill a large part of the entryway and a side chapel.
Moshe died Dec. 13 from injuries sustained in a four-vehicle collision on northbound I-95. His mother, Tamara, who was driving, was being treated at MedStar Washington Hospital Center as of Monday afternoon.
He was an eighth-grader at Talmudical Academy in Baltimore, where his father has also taught for nearly three decades. His classmates arrived to the service by school bus.
“What is there to say?” said Rabbi Yaacov Cohen, the Academy’s executive director. “It’s devastating for our whole school community. Rabbi Moskowitz has been teaching here for 30 years — his family is our family.”
Outpourings of support and condolences on Facebook paint Moshe as a dedicated and thoughtful young man, an image the service reinforced. A Facebook post from Chai Lifeline, a Jewish service organization for kids with life-threatening illnesses, said that Moshe was one of the youngest Bike4Chai riders — a feat made even more impressive by the fact that he had diabetes, said his brother, Naftali, during the service. Moshe and Naftali raised $12,475 for the charity this year.
“A tragedy like this befalls a family and a community,” said Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer, who was officiating the service. “[It’s] so difficult to understand and so difficult to make sense of.”
He went on to say that through faith, the community can endure and take hope.
“It’s a pain, and it hurts, but we will never lose our faith,” he said. “We will persevere.”
The rabbi was followed by Moshe’s father and two of his brothers, all of whom spoke emotionally and tearfully about how much Moshe meant to them.
“There’s really nothing I can say today that will do justice to Moshe,” his father, Doniel Moskowitz, said, voice breaking. “Simcha was his second name, but it’s what he was.”
Moshe was described as a kind, generous, gentle boy who had a passion for learning and a strong determination to do what was right. All spoke about his ready smile and ability to take on any challenge with a positive attitude.
“Moshe, you were my teacher, you were my rebbe,” Doniel said of his son. “Now, you are a rebbe for everyone.”
On the night of Dec. 13, the Moskowitz’s Dodge Caravan was slowing down as it approached a disabled black Honda Pilot on the roadway when an 18-wheel tractor-trailer struck the rear of the Dodge van, essentially crushing it between the two vehicles, according to Sgt. John Pietanza of the Maryland State Police College Park Barrack. A white Volkswagon was also struck by the tractor-trailer as it veered to the left in the initial collision.
Moshe was flown to the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he succumbed to his injuries, according to police. The driver of the Honda, Maria Chryssos, 58, of Corpus Christi, Texas, and its passenger, Anastacia Chryssos, 35, of Perry Hall, sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to Prince George’s Hospital Center. Linda Perline, 53, of Glenwood, the driver of the Volkswagon, was not injured.
There is no indication that, at the time of the accident, any driver was impaired, Pietanza said. The investigation into the incident is ongoing, and police ask anyone with information to contact the College Park Barrack.
Misaskim, a group that helps to ensure Jewish rites are protected during emergencies and tragedies, was called that same night to work with the Washington, D.C., medical examiner so that the body was released in a timely manner, according to a rabbi with the organization, Jack Meyer.