Rabbi Zalman Kossowsky, a former chief rabbi of Zurich, who led congregations on three continents during a career that spanned decades, has died.
Despite German language media reports, Kossowsky’s synagogue in Boynton Beach, Florida, stresses that he passed away Sunday of natural causes unconnected to the coronavirus pandemic. He was 80.
Born in Tehran to Lithuanian refugees fleeing the Soviet takeover of their country, Kossowsky was raised in South Africa. He later went to Israel for his rabbinic studies before migrating to the United States, where he stayed for better part of the 1960s and ’70s, serving at one point as a chaplain in the US Marines and working on his doctorate in sociology.
He later served as a congregational rabbi of the Kenton Shul in London before accepting the role of chief rabbi of the ICZ, a communal umbrella organization representing Orthodox, liberal and secular Jewish streams in Switzerland’s largest city, which he led from 1991 to 2007.