By COLlive reporter
Photos by Yossi Percia / COLlive
A crowd of men and women attended Monday the funeral of Rabbi Zalman Kazen OBM, one of the first Shluchim of the Rebbe in the United States, as it passed by Lubavitch Headquarters 770 Eastern Parkway.
“We’re deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved Rabbi Kazen, a man who touched the hearts and souls of all he came in contact with,” said Michael Hoen, President of Congregation Tzemach Tzedek in Cleveland, where Kazen served.
Rabbi Kazen was known in the community for his open, welcoming approach, the Cleveland Jewish News reported.
Originally from Russia, Rabbi Kazen was a teacher in the underground yeshiva movement of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Jewish paper wrote.
In a 2009 interview with JEM’s My Encounter project, Rabbi Kazen spoke about his visit to the Frierdiker Rebbe in Leningrad in Tishrei of 1927:
He and his wife fled Russia at the end of World War II and spent several years living in Poland, Germany, Czechoslovakia and France. The couple came to Cleveland in 1953 at the request of Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
He became a spiritual leader in Ohio after applying for a High Holiday position at what would become Tzemach Tzedek, and hearing that he was related to the Madorsky family, who founded the shul known then as Nusach Ari Shul.
Shortly after Tzemach Tzedek moved to Cleveland Heights in 1957, Rabbi Kazen bought his home on Glenmont Road, which served as Cleveland’s original Chabad house. When Tzemach Tzedek’s rabbi moved to Wickliffe, Rabbi Kazen was chosen to lead the congregation. For many years, he was also a shochet.
The newspaper added that Rabbi Kazen and his wife Shula formed a committee for widows and orphans to raise money for religious instruction and necessities.
The Kazens formed the Russian Immigrant Aid Society (R.I.A.S.) in the early 1970s to help Jews from the former Soviet Union learn about their Jewish heritage and observe holidays and lifecycle events.
“The quality of Rabbi Kazen which most impacted me from the first time I saw him until the last time we spoke on the phone was his wholeheartedness,” said Harvey Kugelman.
“The wholeheartedness of his smile, of his davening, of his singular intensity and even, on rare occasions, of his disappointment when he chastised us.”