TEL AVIV – The killing of a 24-year-old Jewish man in Chicago’s West Roger’s Park neighborhood is the second murder in as many days and has rocked the local Jewish community.
Eliyahu Moscowitz, 24, was the second victim shot in the head by the same gun and, according to police, likely the same gunman, as Douglas Watts, 73, who was killed 36 hours earlier.
Moscowitz, a kosher supervisor at a local grocery, was out taking a stroll near Loyola park when he was murdered by a masked gunman on Monday night, coinciding with the Simchat Torah holiday.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said it was too early to conclude that the murders were hate crimes, despite the fact that Watts was gay and Moscowitz an observant Jew.
Rabbi David Kotlarsky, who heads the nearby Chabad community of East Lakeview, said that the entire community was in shock over Moscowitz’s death.
Kotlarsky, a close friend of Moscowitz who studied in the same yeshiva, said that the murder had triggered fear in the community.
“We’re in total shock, it’s unreal that it could happen here,” Kotlarsky told the Jerusalem Post.
“The community is feeling hurt and we’re all in mourning. For it to happen on Simchas Torah, to such a special soul — that [God] took him on such a day — was very challenging,” he said.
“We went from extreme happiness to mourning: it’s unbearable.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged local residents to be on the alert as they go about their daily lives.
“To all the residents of the Rogers Park community, your city is standing with you, supporting you, at this moment,” Emanuel said. “I know firsthand the Rogers Park community is strong, is resilient and is a supportive community. We need those core values and the Police Department needs those core values at this time.”
Kotlarsky described Moscowitz as a generous man who always helped others and was always smiling.
“He was a very sincere person. He always had thoughtful questions, he cared about people. He always wanted to have meaningful conversation, engage with the person he was talking with,” said the rabbi.
Moscowitz hails from a prominent Illinois Chabad family. Until his death in 2014, his uncle, Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, served as head of Chabad in Illinois. His first cousin, Rabbi Meir Moscowitz, is the regional director of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois.
Moran Birman from the Israeli consulate in Chicago expressed sadness over the murder, saying the Chabad movement in Illinois were “good friends and allies.”