With great sadness, we announce the passing of Mrs. Reitza Kosofsky of Chicago and S. Monica, mother of Mrs. Nechama Prus. She was 88.

Mrs. Kosofsky was born in Chicago in 1932 to Benyamin and Jennie Kushner. As a child, she convinced her parents to sign her up for the Hebrew Parochial School. Mrs. Kosofsky was a pioneer of the Chabad community in Chicago. She joined the Chabad sisterhood in the 1950s, and worked closely with Rebbetzin Hecht and Rebbetzin Shusterman.

Nechama Prus with her Mother.jpgFor many years, Mrs. Kosofsky and her husband were looked up to by many members of Chicago’s growing community. Young couples turned to
her and her husband for all kinds of help and advice. She dedicated her life to helping others. Rabbi Aron Wolf of Chicago Mitzvah Campaign says, "When people needed meals for Shabbos, I would call them first. They never said, ‘No.’” People knew they could find a sympathetic ear and an open door at her house.

Mrs. Kosofsky’s daughter once met a young woman who had lived in Chicago. When she asked if she knew her mother, the woman began to cry. The woman’s parents had immigrated to Chicago from Eastern Europe, and her mother found herself pregnant, without financial support. She was in tears when she actually met Mrs. Kosofsky on the street years ago. Mrs. Kosofsky took her inside the FREE office and encouraged her to have the baby. The baby girl grew up and became observant, and now has a beautiful Jewish family.

Another woman was in need of a “get”, and her husband refused to give one. Mrs. Kosofsky counseled and encouraged the woman for several years until the husband finally relented. A couple once came to her, telling her they were getting divorced. Her granddaughter, who was in the house, remembers Mrs. Kosofsky told them they owe their children to stay together. After several hours of discussion, the couple left the house committed to
make the marriage work.

In the early 1970s, the Soviet Union opened its doors, and thousands of immigrants arrived in Chicago from Eastern Europe. Under guidance of the Rebbe, Mrs. Kosofsky founded the Chicago chapter of FREE (Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe). She helped people find apartments and jobs, opened a resale shop, and started a Hebrew school and even a day school for the refugees. She arranged thousands of brissim for the immigrants. Her phone rang day and night from the refugees asking for help, from employees of FREE, and numerous volunteers. It was during this time that her three youngest of her nine children were born. She says she ran FREE from her kitchen with the phone on her shoulder, a baby in one hand, while cooking dinner. Eventually, she hired Rabbi Shmuel Notik to be the full time director of FREE. She remained active in the organization as long as she was physically able, and continued as its president.

Many rabbis who came to Chicago to raise funds stayed at her house. Students from the high school and counselors at Camp Gan Yisrael knew they had an open door where they could hang out and work on projects at the Kosofskys.

In 2014, she and her husband moved in with their daughter and son-in-law, to S. Monica, CA. Her husband passed earlier this year.
Mr. and Mrs. Kosofsky were privileged to raise a large family of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, many of whom are operating Chabad centers around the globe. Mrs. Kosofsky leaves her children: Mrs. Nechama Prus (Newton, MA); Mrs. Mina Gordon (Melbourne, AU); Rabbi Noach Kosofsky (Longmeadow, MA); Rabbi Chaim Kosofsky (Longmeadow, MA); Mrs. Chany Mochkin (Rochester, NY); Mrs. Baila Chein (Buenos Aires, ARG); Rabbi Lipman Kosofsky (Brooklyn, NY); Mrs. Sori Levitansky (Simcha Monica, CA); Mrs. Devori Baumgarten (White Meadow Lake, NJ). She leaves a brother and sister-in-law, Irwin and Irene Kushner, of Highland Park, IL; and a sister, Chaya Faier of Yerushalayim. She also leaves two sisters-in-law, Francine Brief (Morton Grove, IL); and Rochelle Baum (Chicago, IL).

Read an article Mrs. Kosofsky wrote about the founding of FREE in Chicago:  www.jewishpress.com/author/reitza-kosofsky/