This couch potato isn’t kosher.
A 90-year-old rabbi’s life has been turned upside down by a brazen squatter who moved into his living room two years ago — and shows no signs of making her exodus any time soon.
Accused agi-tater Roselee Moskowitz, 67, allegedly took advantage of the kindness of Rabbi Meyer Leifer and his family, who gave her a place to stay in his two-bedroom West 28th Street apartment when she had nowhere to go at the dawn of the pandemic, according to his daughter Daniella and court records.
But the mensch’s mitzvah was repaid with unimaginable chutzpah.
Moskowitz pays bupkes in rent and spends day after day planted on the rabbi’s brown suede sofa, vegetating, according to Daniella and Manhattan Housing Court papers seeking her ouster.
“She’s just weird. … She just sits there and reads or sits there quietly staring off into space. I don’t really understand what’s going on,” Daniella said.
Mosokowitz — who inexplicably got a letter of support from Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine’s office as she fights to stay in Leifer’s home — has commandeered the rabbi’s television; leaves the windows in the tiny apartment open, even when it’s cold — and once barricaded herself in the bathroom and called the cops during an argument with one of Leifer’s kids, Daniella said.
“Her being there is so insulting. For months he was just angry about it and helpless. It just riles him up emotionally,” Daniella said of her father, who struggles with dementia. “Let an old man who can barely walk — let him go watch the news and the TV in his living room.
“He might not outlive this,” she said.
A disheveled and masked Moskowitz called 911 when The Post visited the apartment last week.
Daniella Leifer met Moskowitz in February 2020 through an acquaintance who was trying to help her find a place to stay.
With the pandemic raging, the family had moved Meyer Leifer out of town with relatives for a few months, and let Moskowitz camp out in his two-bedroom co-op in his absence, the rabbi’s daughter explained.
By June, Meyer was back and Daniella paid for Moskowitz to rent a room elsewhere — but it didn’t last. Moskowitz showed up on the rabbi’s doorstep again in February 2021, needing a place to stay.
“My dad didn’t know who she was. He’s a little bit forgetful,” said Daniella Leifer of the father of five, grandfather of seven.
The rabbi fell in his bedroom in October 2021 and was sprawled alone on the floor for hours with a head injury while Moskowitz sat in the apartment, the family contends. The injured Leifer was discovered by a visiting friend. He now has a full-time, live-in aide.
The family was forced to go to court in an effort to get Moskowitz out because she stayed for more than 30 days — the magical number in New York law which gives someone “squatters rights.”
Rabbi Leifer, who spent 42 years as head of the Congregation Emunath Israel, or The Chelsea Shul, sued in May to evict Moskowitz. She sought emergency rental assistance from the state in a bid to stave off the court action, Leifer contends in the litigation.
Such help was meant to boost tenants struggling to stay afloat during the economic shutdowns sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. But in some cases, squatters have taken advantage of the pandemic-inspired legal changes, including then-Gov. Cuomo’s eviction moratorium and financial hardship declarations — which paused a case but didn’t require tenants to submit proof of their monetary woes.
The eviction attempt should be paused because she’s a senior citizen, and hadn’t been able to obtain a lawyer, Moskowitz asserted in her legal response. The court denied Moskowitz’ bid for rental help, because she was never a rent-paying tenant.
It’s unclear why or how Levine’s office got involved in the legal case. The Sept. 1 letter to the Housing Court gushes support for the accused squatter — while never mentioning the ill, elder rabbi whose home she’s taken over.
“The legal and court structures have facilitated this. How is this allowed to go on?” said the rabbi’s daughter. “Why is it a thing that after 30 days an unpaying guest that you’re trying to be nice to can just screw you over and drag you through the courts? It shouldn’t be.”
Additional reporting by Brian Zak