Moshe Yehuda Ben Yaakov HaKohen or Mo Berkowitz passed away tragically as an automobile accident victim this past Monday night returning home from his yeshiva Ohr Yitzchak.
Although Mo had an extremely challenging upbringing, time and time again he was able to pick himself up and rise above circumstances that would entrap many of us. As the many speakers at his levaya attested, Mo was known first and foremost for his smile and positive attitude. It was astounding to see what a tremendous impact Mo had on so many NCSYers in the short three months that he worked with NCSY-NY. There were dozens of NCSYers at the levaya and over one hundred have posted unique experiences and lessons that they personally learned from Mo over the past three months.
Having had the opportunity to speak to many of “Mo’s” NCSYers in the past 24 hours, it seems as though although everyone has taken away a different feeling and impression of Moshe, everyone spoke of his smile, his sincerity and how he seemed to make instant connections. Everyone who met Moshe became his best friend, or little brother or sister; he cared for them like his own family, celebrated in s’machot as though they were his own, and shared in the challenging times of others as though they were his own challenging times. NCSY-NY was blessed, if for too short of a time, to have the charisma, sincerity and personality of Moshe Berkowitz. He left an indelible imprint on the staff, volunteers and NCSYers who had the privilege of coming into contact with him and NCSY-NY will forever hold itself to a higher standard of simcha and sincerity because of Moshe. He will be tremendously missed.
A scholarship fund has been set up in Moshe’s memory. It will be awarded to public school students from Brooklyn and Staten Island who display the middot of sincerity and simcha that were Moshe’s calling card and applied towards a summer program or post high school year in Israel. If you would like to contribute to this fund, write/share a memory of Moshe, or sign up for a chessed/learning project in his memory, please click NCSY|Jewish Youth Leadership or you can visit newyork.ncsy.org/ for more information.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.