Faye Moskowitz, an English professor at George Washington University, who taught creative writing and Jewish American literature, and who wrote memoirs about being a parent and her many careers, from working for the Democratic Party in Michigan to teaching middle school to writing, passed away on Feb. 21. She was 91.
At George Washington University, Moskowitz co-created and taught a popular class called “Jewish Literature Live!” for 13 years. The class often filled up the first day of registration and some students even took it multiple times, she said in a 2020 interview with WJW.
Her memoirs included “A Leak in the Heart,”“And the Bridge is Love” and “Peace in the House: Tales from a Yiddish Kitchen.”
“Sometimes it’s only a fragment of a memory, but usually that’s a good place to start,” Moskowitz said in 2020 of her memoir-writing. “So, what you hope for is something unique, something that nobody else will come up with and that’s usually a word or an image from your past.”
Over the years, Moskowitz won a number of literary and academic awards, including the Pen Syndicated Fiction Award and the First Outstanding GW Woman Award. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Faye Stollman Moskowitz was born in Detroit on July 31, 1930 into an Orthodox family, In 1948, she married Jack Moskowitz, who predeceased her in 2020. The early death of Faye’s beloved mother, Sophie, and Jack’s father, Frank, put them in the position of caring for her younger brothers, Chaim and Reuben, as well her father, Aaron, and mother-in-law, Helen.
While this responsibility kept Faye from immediately pursuing a college education, it provided many of the experiences she would chronicle in her later books and articles.
As a devoted mother and housewife, raising four children, Faye still found time to engage in two passions — politics and folk music. Both remained central to her throughout her life. As an activist for the Oakland County (Mich.) Democratic party, Faye served as a delegate to the 1960 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. Additionally, she taught folk guitar to hundreds of students.
In 1962, Faye and Jack moved to Washington. She earned her PhD. at George Washington University and served as both a professor and chair of the English Department. Among her achievements at GW were the formation and initial management of the The Jenny McKean Moore Fund and Professorship and the establishment (through the support of David Bruce Smith) of GW’s Jewish Literature Live class that was cited by Time Magazine as one of “the hottest seats in class” in 2013.
Faye continued teaching well into her 80s. Prior to serving on the faculty of GW, Faye was the inaugural director of the Edmund Burke Middle School. Faye’s tenure as resident scholar of the annual writers retreat sponsored by the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center continued until last year. Additionally, she co-chaired the JCC’s literary festival for many years.
Her contributions in the Style section of The Washington Post led to a surprise five-week stint writing the beloved “Hers” column in the New York Times, which led to the publication of her first book, “A Leak in the Heart” published in 1985. During this time, Faye was a regular contributor to NPR’s “All Things Considered.” In her later years, Faye served as poetry editor for Moment Magazine.
As an adult, she and her daughter, Shoshana, became b’not mitzvah together at Adas Israel Synagogue. Faye served as a speaker for the United Jewish Appeal.
As matriarch of the Moskowitz home of 60 years on Highland Place in the District, Faye served host to numerous gatherings and readings. Her commitment to Civil Rights, an end to the War in Vietnam and other causes made her one of the most sought-after “hoteliers” of her generation.
Faye is survived by her beloved children, grandchildren and great granddaughter: daughter and son-in-law Shoshana and Peter Grove; granddaughter Helen Grove and husband Mac LeBuhn and their daughter Eleanor; son and daughter-in-law Frank Moskowitz and Heidi Findley; son and daughter-in-law Seth Moskowitz and Cheryl Michaly; grandson Henry Moskowitz and Henry’s mother Julie Lapore; daughter and son-in-law Elizabeth and Jeffrey Korns and grandson Jonathan Korns. Faye is also survived by her loving brother and sister-in-law, Reuben and Susan Stollman; nieces, nephews and cousins. She leaves behind her trusted caregivers Irene, Noeme, Berri and Stella, and a host of friends, colleagues and students.
Donations can be made The Sisterhood — Adas Israel Congregation (designate the Faye Moskowitz Writers Retreat), and The Jenny McKean Moore Fund and Professorship. Services entrusted to Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care.
Asked what distinguishes a good narrative from a bad one, she said, “I think a bad memoir would be something that didn’t distinguish itself from any other memoir, so all the more important to fasten on an image from your past or even a word.”