Jews for Jesus founding member dies

Jhan Moskowitz, 64, one of the founders of Jews for Jesus, the best known Jewish evangelism agency in the world, has died after a fall on a subway in New York City.

Moskowitz fell and hit his head in the subway on Tuesday. His injury caused hemorrhaging in his brain which led to him being put on life support. According to one report, his family made the difficult decision of removing him from that life support on Wednesday.

In a message to supporters, David Brickner, the head of Jews for Jesus since 1996, said, "We had hoped to report a miracle today but that has not been the case. As of early afternoon the doctors began the process of determining whether Jhan would be able to survive on his own. With no brain activity since yesterday afternoon, the result was a formal declaration of death. The medical explanation was herniation as a result of intracranial hemorrhage."

Brickner said that there will be a memorial service on Friday morning at 11:00am local time at Trinity Baptist Church, New York. His body will be buried in Chicago on Sunday where there will be a private graveside service.

"The family requests that you not call them directly," added Brickner. "The many, many people who would want to condole with the family after the sudden shock of our brother's home going would overwhelm them at this time."

According to, Jhan Moskowitz was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. His parents were refugees from Nazi Germany and spent four and a half years in a concentration camp.

"I learned at an early age what it means to be a Jew and to be loyal to my heritage and my people," says Jhan. He was disenchanted with religion in his teens, but was committed to the survival of his people and became a short-term volunteer on a kibbutz (communal farm) in Israel.

"When I went to Israel I was an atheist," said Moskowitz, "but by the time I left, I knew that God did exist. I became a seeker. I felt God had created the universe with a purpose, and I wanted to know his purpose for my life. I found my answer in 1971 when I came to terms with God through his Messiah, Jesus.

Moskowitz was one of the "original" Jews for Jesus volunteers, even before the organisation's incorporation in 1973. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Philosophy from Long Island University and received theological training from Simpson College in San Francisco. He also has a Master's degree in Missiology with concentration in Jewish Evangelism/Judaic studies from the Fuller School of World Mission in Pasadena, California. He was ordained through the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination.

Moskowitz co-founded Jews for Jesus' mobile evangelistic drama team, the New Jerusalem Players, and toured the United States as leader of that team for several years. He headed up the Jews for Jesus New York branch, where he also served as pastor of a Jewish Christian congregation in Manhattan, Kehilat Y'shua (Assembly of Jesus). Moskowitz served as the director of the Chicago branch for over 20 years, during which time he led a Bible study for the legal community in downtown Chicago.

In the international evangelical arena, Moskowitz took part in the first Lausanne Consultation on World Evangelisation in Pattaya, Thailand, in 1980. He participated in the first Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) in Newmarket, England, in 1986, after leading a major street witnessing campaign in London that summer. Since that time, he has attended and contributed to each LCJE meeting. Moskowitz has also been a platform speaker for Promise Keepers and has brought the message of Messiah to tens of thousands of men.

In a memory of Jhan Moskowitz, Jon Trott a writer, teacher, and member of Jesus People USA community in Uptown, Chicago, said: "Jhan's vibe was all New York to me, from the unmistakable accent to the comfortable intellectualism he displayed. His eyes were deep and kind, and his smile infectious. In the few conversations I had with him here at Jesus People USA's 920 W. Wilson home, we talked everything from politics to Old Testament. The latter category under his tutelage was fascinating, illuminating, and amazingly multi-faceted; he spoke to us about it at least three different times I can recall (which means it was likely more).

"I sometimes wondered how he carried his Jewishness - for much of recorded history the ultimate 'Other' to Christians and pagans alike - among white Evangelicals. There must have been stress in holding onto two identities - (1) the child of Jewish parents who spent four [and a half] years in Nazi Concentration camps, (2) the convert to a faith not known for its kindness to his people throughout history. The fierce opposition Jews for Jesus created among those of Jewish faith must have saddened him greatly, but the cross he bore living in the in-between was most often reflected in a gently humorous outlook.

"His death shocked me. There are deaths which seem in season, coming at the end of a life well lived and therefore 'good deaths'. This doesn't feel that way. Jhan was a man who appeared in good health, filled with vitality and sure to be ministering for years to come.

Trott concluded by saying, "He will be missed. My prayers go out to his family and the Jews for Jesus fellowship around the world."