Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, the regional director of Lubavitch-Chabad of Illinois who helped to spur the growth of dozens of Chabad-Lubavitch centers in 21 cities across the state, passed away suddenly in Chicago on March 4. He was 59.

Moscowitz was born on the North Side of Chicago to Frank (Ephraim) and Cynthia (Tzivia) Moscowitz. In his youth, Moscowitz’s father, Frank—a longtime public-school teacher and principal—had studied at the Lubavitcher Yeshivah in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Daniel and his younger brothers were sent to Bais Yaakov, a local Jewish day school. Following in his father’s footsteps, he then went on to study at Chabad yeshivahs in Montreal, Canada and Brooklyn. He was among the young students selected to serve as senior students at the Chabad yeshivah in Brunoy, France.

Shortly after his marriage to Esther Rochel Aronow, the newly ordained Rabbi Moscowitz headed back home to Chicago, where he joined Chabad representative Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Hecht of Congregation Anshei Lubavitch.

Within a year of his arrival, Moscowitz founded what was to become the Tannenbaum Chabad House, serving Jewish students at Northwestern University in nearby Evanston, Ill.

Appointed Head Shaliach of Illinois

After Rabbi Hecht’s passing, he became head shaliach of the state and under his stewardship, Lubavitch-Chabad of Illinois grew to encompass nearly 40 centers in 21 cities. The Chabad community of Illinois now boasts full kindergarten through 12th-grade educational institutions for boys and girls, as well as services for seniors, children with special needs and everyone in between.

Together with Rabbi Baruch Epstein, he opened a new synagogue on Chicago’s far North Side in the summer of 1995 called Bais Menachem Nusach Ari—named in honor of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—and in continuum of the historic Chabad Nusach Ari synagogue that had functioned for many years in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood.

In 2000, the Moscowitzes moved to the nearby suburb of Northbrook, Ill., to open a new Chabad center there with their children, Rabbi Meir and Miriam Moscowitz.

In 2006, assisted by his son Yosef, he began to expand Chabad's presence throughout the state, adding many new Chabad centers and programs.

A beloved congregational rabbi, Moscowitz celebrates at a wedding along with his son, Rabbi Meir Moscowitz, center.
A beloved congregational rabbi, Moscowitz celebrates at a wedding along with his son, Rabbi Meir Moscowitz, center.

It was just a few weeks ago that he proudly oversaw the opening of a new Chabad center in Carbondale, Ill., by Rabbi Mendel and Yochi Scheiman.

Beyond Illinois, Moscowitz was active in Jewish communal leadership on a national and global scale. He was chairman of the executive committee of the Chicago Rabbinical Council; a member of the executive committee of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch; and a visible leader at the International Conference of Chabad Emissaries.

The 59-year-old rabbi was in a local hospital undergoing routine surgery this morning, but did not wake following the procedure.

Extending his “deepest heartfelt condolences on behalf of all the shluchim worldwide to the Moscowitz family, to his wife, children and parents,” Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, praised his colleague for having “succeeded in building a network of 37 thriving Jewish institutions threading through the entire state of Illinois. In his role as an integral member of the executive board of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the agency at Chabad Headquarters responsible for all the shluchim, he served effectively with alacrity and distinction. Just yesterday, he participated in a three-hour teleconference of the executive board, where matters pertinent to the wide world of shluchim were discussed. We are stunned at his premature passing. He will be sorely missed.”

“Rabbi Moscowitz was an inspirational leader and true Chassid,” recalls Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of the Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, with whom he shared a long and productive personal and professional relationship. “He was energetic, caring and dedicated. He was a close friend to everyone, and an active voice on behalf of Torah and Judaism. Rabbi Moscowitz was someone who put the cause of the community and the Rebbe’s vision before everything else. Many shluchim would seek out his advice on a variety of issues. His insights and unforgettable personality have left a powerful stamp on thousands of minds and hearts in Illinois and beyond.”

The Chabad center in Northbrook, Ill.
The Chabad center in Northbrook, Ill.

He is survived by his wife, Esther Rochel, and nine children: Mrs. Shterna Sara Newman (Crown Heights, N.Y.); Rabbi Meir Shimon Moscowitz (Northbrook, Ill.); Rabbi Yosef Shmuel Moscowitz (Chicago); Rabbi Yehoshua Zelik Moscowitz (Northbrook, Ill.); Mrs. Chana Teldon (Northbrook, Ill.); Mrs. Rivkah Sternberg (Montreal, Canada); Mrs. Chava Kagan (Chicago); Rabbi Leibel Moscowitz (Chicago); and Mrs. Chaya Mushka Hecht (Brooklyn, N.Y.). He is also survived by his parents and his brothers, Rabbi Moshe Moscowitz, Eli Moscowitz and Rabbi Mendel Moscowitz.

The funeral is scheduled to take place at Congregation Bnei Ruven in Chicago, 6350 North Whipple, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 5. Internment will be at Waldheim Cemetery, 1400 Desplaines Ave. in Forest Park.

The family will sit shiva at 1025 Landwehr Road in Northbrook.