A Tribute to Mo Berkowitz z”l


mo-berkowitzMembers of Klal Yisroel, and more specifically Yeshivas Ohr Yitzchak and Yeshivas Birchas Shmuel, are numbed by the sudden passing of their beloved talmid and English teacher, habochur Moshe Yehuda ben Yaakov Hakohein, Moe Berkowitz  z”l.

The yeshiva was his life. Moshe davened there, spent hours learning there, and made himself available 24/7 to help others. He was an amud hayeshiva, a pillar of the yeshiva.

Moshe joined the nightly learning program at Yeshivas Ohr Yitzchak six years ago.  After the first year, he joined the morning bais medrash, to which he belonged for the next five years. Moshe grew tremendously in his learning and avodas Hashem despite the many distractions around him. He turned himself into a true ben Torah. Moshe learned parts of Mesechtos Sukkah, Kiddushin, Bava Metziah, Kiddushin, Shabbos, Brachos, Sotah, and Avodah Zarah  during morning and night sedarim, besides for mesechtos that he learned on his own. On Friday afternoons, Moshe was one of the yechidim calmly sitting in the bais medrash, learning.    Moshe became the star English teacher at Yeshivas Birchas Shmuel, which consists of sixth, seventh and eighth grade boys in September ’09. His cool and laid-back demeanor made him approachable and popular. He was able to relate to the boys and they confided in him. Wanting to be like Moshe, they emulated his ways and discovered the joys of learning and shmiras hamitzvos. Moshe invested his kochos into them and encouraged them to succeed.

On the night of his petirah, Moshe was on his way home from his weekly game of bowling with his talmidim when his car was hit by a drunken driver.

Moshe had sterling character traits, along with the sweetest personality. He was a walking kiddush Hashem. He always tried to cheer up those who were down and lent a helping hand to any friend in need. He had a tremendous lev tov and an ayin tov. Over the years, he tutored many boys, very often without remuneration. Moshe never had a bad word to say about anyone. He preferred to focus on their positive attributes and bring the good deeds of others into the spotlight.

Moshe was probably the most popular boy in the yeshiva. Everyone loved him. Whenever there was a yeshiva event, whether a Shabbaton, a dinner or a trip, the first question everyone asked was, “Is Moshe coming?”  

Moshe always enjoyed yeshiva functions and his simcha was contagious. If he was coming along, one was bound to have a good time.

This past Shabbos, Moshe was together with his Yeshivas Ohr Yitzchak family at a   Shabbaton at the Stamford Plaza Hotel. The inspiration that he received from the many excellent speakers was apparent on his shining countenance.

Moshe’s shimush of his rabbeim was unparalleled. He always addressed his rabbeim in a bakavodike manner, and anything his rabbeim told him to do he did immediately without hesitation. He was a klei kibbul.

Moshe drove his rabbeim wherever they needed to go in his yeshivishe car, and he happily picked up things for the yeshiva, whether it was bagels for the yeshiva breakfast or pizza from Mendelsohn’s for lunch.

Moshe recently decided to join a program that monitors internet usage. Shortly afterwards, about thirty people from the yeshiva signed up for a similar program. Since he was in the parsha of shidduchim for a while, Moshe decided to become extra zahir in shmiras einayim as a means of making himself more worthy of meeting his bashert. Only a few weeks ago, Moshe asked his rebbi to take charge of his shidduchim, explaining to him that after months of shmiras einayim, he truly felt he was ready for marriage.

In Avos D’Rav Nosson, we find when Rav Yochanan Ben Zakai’s son was niftar, no one was able to console him, until Rav Eliezer Ben Azaryah came and related the following moshol: A king appointed someone to watch over one of his treasures. The appointee was nervous that something would happen to the object and anxiously awaited the moment that the king would take it back unscathed.

Rav Eliezer Ben Azaryah explained: “So too, your son learned kol haTorah kulah and passed away without sin. You’ve returned your pikadon in its shleimus.” Rav Yochana Ben Zakai was consoled.

Friends, family and acquaintances are devastated by Moshe’s passing, but we can be comforted that Moshe has returned to Hashem.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Yossi Schneider-Matzav.com Newscenter} 


  1. I didnt know moshe well ( enough) wish I knew him better… listening to the speeches by his levaya just reiterated how all his friends felt about him…

    He was as special as they come…He will be missed

  2. A really nice guy. Knowing him personally, I can say that everything written is 100% true, he was a truly great guy, not one ounce of anything was exaggerated due to the situation. He was a really genuiune and good person, who will be truly missed by all of us.

  3. (continuation of above comment)

    For way too long, countless mean and callous drivers have terrorized our roads and highways. Acting as if THEY were the police, they pull up to right behind the car ahead of them, flash on their brights, force the car to get out of their way, and then race ahead at speeds far above the posted speed limits.

    On city streets, they cut drivers off as — totally against the rules of yielding — they turn suddenly in front of ongoing cars.

    Understandably, these and many other severely dangerous actions have led to numerous crashes.

    These are not my words. At http://ezinearticles.com/?Car-Accident-Statistics&id=125450, the second paragraph states:

    “The main causes for car accidents are reckless and negligent driving and alcohol. Teenagers, according to the statistics, cause most car accidents. (Their) Inexperience coupled with irresponsible behavior and a lack of respect for the safety precautions are the main causes for such a high number of teenage car accidents.”

  4. (continuation of above comment)

    And these are numerous car accidents WITH NUMEROUS PEOPLE KILLED!!

    The numbers are outright staggering! According to http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx, for most of the last decade and a half, each year, over fourty thousand people were killed by car crashes. Boruch HaShem, just recently, the statistics went down a little bit with “only” 37,423 in 2008 and 33,808 in 2009. Of course though, 37,423 and 33,808 are still 37,423 and 33,808 too many!!

  5. (continuation of above comment)

    Furthermore, the third section of the web page edgarsnyder.com/drunk-driving/statistics notes that close to one third of 2008’s 37,423 fatalities, 11,773 to be exact, were in crashes by drunk drivers!