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Osias Zwerdling Dies

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Osias Zwerdling Dies

Osias Zwerdling, 98. the “founding father” of Ann Arbor’s Jewish community, died late Saturday night.

A former businessman and leader in both Jewish and secular community activities, Mr. Zwerdling came to Ann Arbor in 1903 from New York to work as a fur designer. He later opened his own business at 333 S. Main St.

In 1915, he built the Zwerdling Building at 213-219 E. Liberty St.

Mr. Zwerdling operated his furrier business in that building until 1943. He was a charter member of the Family Service Agency, served on the Community Chest board and was chairman of the United Service Organization during World War II, when he also headed the county war bond drive.

He organized Congregation Beth Israel, the first Jewish congregation in Ann Arbor, in his home in 1916 and served as its president until 1958.

Over the years, he led many local United Jewish Appeal drives and was instrumental in the founding of the second Hillel Foundation in the United States, organized here for University students.

Mr. Zwerdling was born in Brody, Austria, on Oct. 27, 1878. He married Hannah Kaufman on Dec. 25, 1907. She preceded him in death. Mr. Zwerdling is survived by two sons, Abraham and Joseph, both of Washington, D.C.

“People are people, and I love them all. It doesn’t take much for you to enjoy life if you love people, and I have enjoyed my life,” Mr. Zwerdling once told a News reporter

Funeral services will be held at 12 noon Monday at Beth Israel Congregation, 1429 Hill St.