From a young age, the guiding principle of Daniella Moffson's life was the desire to help others. Her teenage years were filled with continuous volunteerism. Whether it was in the pediatric units of Weill Cornell Medical Center or Mt. Sinai Hospital, in South African AIDS clinics, or through Friendship Circle, Daniella devoted each of her days to helping the people around her. These are some of the tangible, quantifiable ways in which Daniella impacted the world, but so many of her actions were immeasurable.
There is no way to measure the good that Daniella did every time she opened her mouth to encourage a friend who needed support; every time that she smiled her brightest smile at a stranger who looked unhappy; every time she pulled up a chair for someone excluded from the circle. Daniella was conscious of other people’s needs and feelings and she worked diligently to ensure that her every word and deed would serve to benefit those around her. The values that inspired Daniella were instilled in her by her loving family, and by the institutions in which she grew up.
Daniella was raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan where her family attended Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, whose affiliate school, Ramaz, was where Daniella was educated. She spent her summers at camps Morasha and Seneca Lake. Daniella spent her year after high school learning at Midreshet AMIT, an educational seminary based in Beit Hayeled, a foster home for disadvantaged youth, where she lived and worked with some of Israel's most needy children. That summer, she volunteered with Magen David Adom, Israel's national ambulance, blood-services, and disaster-relief organization, where she was trained as an ambulance first responder. After her gap year, Daniella attended Barnard College and was a pre-med student studying psychology. She worked tirelessly toward achieving her goal of enrolling in medical school and becoming a pediatric oncologist. Pairing her passion for medicine with her love of children, Daniella became a beloved counselor at Chai Lifeline’s Camp Simcha. She spent her summer vacations tending to the needs of sick children, getting up early, going to bed late, and doing it all, as she did everything: with a smile.
On January 13th, 2016, the world lost some of its brightness when Daniella was killed in a tragic bus accident in Honduras. After a week of volunteering with the Columbia University chapter of Global Brigades, a non-profit organization that mobilizes students to “empower communities in developing countries with programs that improve quality of life,” the bus in which Daniella was traveling crashed on its way to the airport. She died as she lived—giving to others. Her last week on this earth was a reflection of her all too-short life; it was filled with kindness, passion, hard work, and a commitment to serving those who were less fortunate.
It is impossible to articulate the totality of her acts of chesed, or good deeds. Eternally humble, Daniella rarely explained where she was going or what she was doing: she simply did. Her biographical details can shed only the smallest light on who she was and what she stood for. In the wake of her tragic death, thousands have been motivated to do; to give; to pray. Daniella Nechama Moffson lives on in the legacy she created in her short but full 21 years, and in the good she continues to inspire each and every day. Our Foundation, which bears her name, seeks to pick up where Daniella left off, to accomplish the good that she would have used her life to achieve.
May her memory forever be a blessing.