Zinovii (Zalman) Kontsevoi was born in 1903 in the city of Kherson, Ukraine. He worked as an apprentice in a bicycle shop.
During the civil war in Russia (1918-1921) Zinovii Kontsevoi volunteered to join the newly established Red Army. He served as a sapper. In 1926 he graduated from the Leningrad College of Military Engineers and in 1935 from the Leningrad Military Academy, where he then taught.
During the Soviet-German war Zinovii Kontsevoi served as a senior officer in the engineering corps. In 1941 he began as a chief of staff of a n engineering corps, later becoming chief of staff of other engineering corps on the Stalingrad and Central Fronts. In 1944 and 1945 he served as commander of the engineering corps of the 60th Army that fought against the Wehrmacht in Poland. In 1944 he was promoted to the rank of major-general. For having organized a successful crossing of the Dnieper River, in October 1943 Zinovii Kontsevoi was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. He was also awarded eight other honors, including the Order of Kutuzov, 2nd class. In December 1943 the article by Mira Aizenshtadt (Zheleznova) "Hero of the Soviet Union Colonel Zalman Kontsevoi" was prepared for the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and sent to Jewish newspapers abroad.
In 1948 he graduated from the Higher Military Academy. Thereafter, he continued to serve in the Soviet Army in important positions, including teaching at the same Higher Military Academy and later at the Military Engineering Academy. He retired from the army in 1961.
Zinovii Kontsevoi died in 1990 in Moscow.