Perpendicular aliya

A rabbi, lawyer and educator continues his campaign to counter the 'Don't ask' mentality.

By ALAN ROSENBAUM
April 12, 2018 21:27
RABBI AVRAHAM MOSHE KOWALSKY

RABBI AVRAHAM MOSHE KOWALSKY. (photo credit: REBECCA KOLWALSKY)

‘We wanted to come to Israel while we were still perpendicular to the ground, not parallel to it,” quips Rabbi Avraham Moshe Kowalsky, who moved to Jerusalem in 2013 from Baltimore with his wife Sharon. At first glance, Kowalsky looks and sounds the part of the typical American haredi immigrant, with the requisite gray beard, black-rimmed glasses, black skullcap and Ashkenazic pronunciation. But after a few minutes of further observation, one senses that there is more than meets both the eye and the ear. There is something slightly subversive in the mind of this independent thinker.

Avraham Kowalsky was born 71 years ago, and as a child in New Bedford, Massachusetts, he and his siblings were the only Orthodox Jewish children in the Cape Cod town where their father, Shalom Kowalsky, served as the rabbi. In the fall of 1959, Kowalsky set off for Baltimore’s Ner Israel Rabbinical College. He remained there for 11 years, graduating high school and eventually receiving rabbinic ordination. During that time, he attended law school at the University of Maryland, from which he graduated in 1970.

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