June 21, 2024
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June 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A Moment That Changed the Course of Our Lives

There were many in our community who had terrible moments on 9/11, including those who lost spouses, relatives, parents and friends. These past 20 years have been exceedingly difficult for them. We extend to them our birkat tanchumim and pray that the neshamot of those lost will be raised by our strong memories of their goodness during their lifetimes, and our chesed and tzedakah in their memories. We also have many in our community who escaped the towers with their lives.

One such survivor is our friend Moshe (Russell) Moskowitz, who lives in Bergenfield. He had a terrible 9/11 moment as well, but he used that moment to totally alter the course of his own life, dedicating it, in its entirety, to Avodat Hashem.

Moshe, then almost 25, who worked at Fuji Bank on the 79th floor of WTC II, was told to evacuate by a fellow employee, James Outerbrige, when the first plane hit Tower I. Many ignored this evacuation advice, and some even returned to their desks. Moshe was in the stairwell somewhere around the 33rd floor when Tower II was hit, taking out the 79th floor completely. He was knocked to the ground on impact, but somehow continued his way down and escaped, saying and repeating the six words of Shema he had learned in his secular Sunday school as a young child.

You can read Moshe’s full story, in his own words here, which we are reprinting on the 20th anniversary of this defining moment for our generation.

However, what you may not know is that Moshe has faced every day of his life since 9/11 in a different manner from before, and has spoken about how his experience enabled him to embrace his Judaism and religiosity, and grow in his relationship with Hashem.

Moshe, who did not grow up with a Jewish education, has since reveled in building a Jewish family with his wonderful wife Michelle, keeping Shabbat and kosher, and raising their beautiful children to know that every day is a gift.

I personally have never met anyone—and I have met many baalei teshuva, including some in my own family—who has so decidedly changed his life to serve Hashem, and I also don’t know if I have ever met anyone as dedicated to Hashem, every moment of the day, as Moshe. If Moshe is not caring for his family, he is davening, learning or helping others. As a result of his life having been saved by Hashem, he does not believe in “downtime”; he is either sleeping or being productive. My family has been a personal beneficiary of Moshe’s dedication and chesed, and my 10-year-old daughter recently told me she considers him one of the 36 Tzaddikim currently living in the world.

To learn more of the profound messages Moshe gleaned that day, listen to the talk he gave in 2019 at Frisch, available on YU Torah, here: https://tinyurl.com/2yncy4rs.

By Elizabeth Kratz

 

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