Moshe (Moshko) Moskowitz, an Israeli educator, and activist, one of the founders of the Har Etzion Yeshiva and the renewed Jewish community of Gush Etzion, a founder of the Zomet Institute, who served as the head of the Shafir Regional Council as well as the Efrat Local Council, died at age 96 on Sunday.
Moskowitz’s life’s work began before the establishment of the State of Israel, when, as a member of the gar’in (nucleus) of the Masu’ot Itzhak settlement that was established in Gush Etzion in 1945 and was destroyed with the fall of the gush at the hand of the Jordanian Legion in the War of Independence.
He later went on a mission on behalf of the religious kibbutz in the detention camps in Cyprus, helping illegal olim organize their lives in the camps and preparing them for aliyah to Eretz Israel.
After the 1967 Six-Day War, he worked extensively for the settling of Gush Etzion, from which he had been uprooted 19 years earlier. He established the Alon Shvut community and recruited Rabbis Yehuda Amital and Aharon Lichtenstein to establish the Har Etzion Yeshiva in the new community.
In the early 1980s, he helped establish the settlement of Efrat and served for more than four years as the head of the settlement and the first head of the local council.
Moskowitz was a member of the Board of Directors of Bar-Ilan University; Chairman of the Shaarei Mishpat College Association; Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Sheikh Yitzhak Yeshiva; Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Har Etzion Yeshiva; and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Junction Institute.
On Jerusalem Day 2018, Moskowitz was awarded the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism (established by Irving and Cherna Moskowitz), “for over sixty years of involvement, commitment and leadership in the fields of education, society, and settlement; for his personal role in the establishment of localities and institutions of education and Torah throughout the country; for his vision of resettlement in Gush Etzion, after the Six-Day War and for the fulfillment of the vision, with the foundation of the settlements of the gush, the yeshiva of Mount Etzion, and the city of Efrat.”
In preparation for the coming 73rd Independence Day of the State of Israel, the Gush Etzion Regional Council submitted Moshe Moskowitz’s nomination for the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement.
Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman eulogized Moskowitz on Sunday morning saying:
“We woke up to a sad morning. Gush Etzion mourns one of its prominent founders, Moshe Moshkowitz – “Moshko.” Moshko worked non-stop for decades in establishing communities in Judea and Samaria, in education, and in building various institutions. Just until a few days ago he continued to monitor the construction towards the establishment of new neighborhoods in the heart of Gush Etzion in the area which was the original Masu’ot Yitzhak and near the Etzion army base. He also continued to oversee the management of the Har Etzion Yeshiva. It is difficult to describe his unceasing vigor, his attention to small details, and his incredible drive to carry out the dreams he initiated.”
Ne’eman added, “A great man has left us, who ordered that we continue to fulfill his dream of building and developing in Gush Etzion. A few months ago, we submitted a proposal for Moshko to receive the Israel prize – for eight decades of unbelievable accomplishments. Unfortunately he passed away before receiving this honor. Thank you Moshko for everything you have given to us. We will preserve your legacy and learn from it for many generations to come. Rest in peace.”