Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Michael Kotzin, Chicago Federation Official, Dies

Michael Kotzin, a longtime top official at the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, has died.

Kotzin, who died Sunday after suffering from a serious illness for several years, served the Chicago federation since 1988, most recently as the special consultant to the president and formerly as executive vice president from 1999 until 2011.

“Our community, the Jewish federation world, indeed the entire Jewish people have benefited in ways almost too numerous to recount from Michael’s deep knowledge, keen insight, steadfast commitment, and brilliant mind,” Bill Silverstein and Steven Nasatir, the chairman and president, respectively, of the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, said in a statement. “He was indefatigable, investing unparalleled passion, energy and focus in every facet of his work. His uncompromising fairness and decency were hallmarks of his character.”

Kotzin also formerly served as director of JUF’s Jewish Community Relations Council and, before joining the federation, was Chicago Regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. Prior to coming to the ADL, he was a faculty member in the English department at Tel Aviv University.

He was the author of the 2014 book “On the Front Lines in a Changing Jewish World,” a compilation of essays, opinion pieces, speeches and reviews he wrote during the past 25 years. Kotzin was also the author of a book about the novels of Charles Dickens.

“He was an innovative thinker and widely-respected authority on a wide range of issues, including global anti-Semitism, the threat of a nuclear Iran, Israel-Diaspora relations, and intergroup relations,” Silverstein and Nasatir said. “In close collaboration with lay leadership and his professional colleagues, he helped set the JUF/Federation agenda in many arenas, from public affairs, to communications, to the academic study of Israel.”

Kotzin is survived by his wife, Judy; their three children and their grandchildren.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.