A Menorah lighting ceremony was held Monday night at Loyola Park to remember 24-year-old Eliyahu Moscowitz who was shot and killed nearly two months ago less than 100 feet from where the ceremony took place.
Eliyahu Moscowitz, a Hasidic Jew, was killed a day after 73-year-old Douglas Watts was killed by a man police believe is the same gunman. He remains at large and the Chicago Police Department is offering a $150,000 reward to anyone that comes forward with information that leads to an arrest.
About 200 people were in attendance, according to Rabbi Meyer Juzint, who helped organize the ceremony with the local Chabad, a Hasidic movement known for its outreach programs around the world. Those in attendance included members of the Moscowitz family and 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore.
Hasidism is a movement in Judaism which preaches acts of love and kindness to make an individual closer to God, according to an article written by the Chabad.
The event featured four speakers, including Eliyahu Moscowitz’s father, Rabbi Mendel Moscowitz, who asked the community to stay strong and love one another during a speech commemorating his son.
“For everyone here, this very location, Loyola Park, represents a place of darkness and evil,” Mendel Moscowitz said. “The response is not just to huddle in a corner, behind drawn curtains and say ‘What can we do’ rather, it’s to do something. It’s to light a candle. It’s to remind ourselves that light is actually more powerful than darkness.”
Eliyahu Moscowitz worked in the Kosher section of the Jewel Osco near Howard Street and Clark Avenue and is remembered by his coworkers as a kind and compassionate man. During the event, friends of Mendel Moscowitz’s son approached him to praise Eliyahu’s good spirited nature.
“You raised one of the kindest and gentlest people,” said Steve Loskutov, one of Eliyahu Moscowitz’s coworkers. “He was as witty as he was kind, smart as he was gentle and one of the most amazing people I ever got to know.”
The event lasted for more than an hour. Local rabbis gave speeches discussing the power and significance of the Menorah. People in the crowd were also invited to take part in a traditional Jewish dance played on a synthesizer while waiting for Mendel Moscowitz to speak.
Mendel Moscowitz spoke about the origins of the Menorah and how the nine-candle stand represents the promise that Yahweh is there. Mendel told the story of Hanukkah from thousands of years ago when the Greeks ruled Israel and a small group stood up to them and won, lighting the Menorah after their victory.
“They lit the Menorah which later symbolically came to show that we prevailed,” Rabbi Baruch Epste said. “Tonight, by dedicating the Menorah in his memory we are showing that his light will continue to shine and will not be extinguished and cannot ever be extinguished,”
While the ceremony brought a sense of unity, some people expressed concern over escalating violence in Rogers Park. Rabbi Yehoshua Ben-Avraham lives near the area where the crime took place and said he feels uneasy leaving his home since the killer of Douglas Watts and Eliyahu is still at large.
“We always thought our neighborhood was safe from this type of crime so it was unsettling in that regard,” Rabbi Ben-Avraham said in an interview with The Phoenix. “Our neighborhood should be a safe and open environment and this might push people away.”
A Loyola student concerned with the recent violence founded a Facebook group called Roam RoPo for students to connect and walk home together, and to share safety information, The Phoenix previously reported. The Phoenix has reported several other shootings in Rogers Park this semester, but police believe they aren’t connected to the murders of Watts and Moscowitz.