On Thursday, April 19, Rav Zachariah Gelley – mara dasra of K’hal Adath Jeshurun (“Breuer’s”) in Washington Heights and a tremendous talmid chacham, manhig and darshan much beloved by his kehilla – passed away at the Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey in Lakewood. He was 85 years old.
Rav Gelley was born on September 7, 1932 in Topolcany, Slovakia (near Bratislava), to Menachem and Rivka Gellai. The Gellai family were Oberlander Jews who followed minhag Ashkenaz and descended from distinguished rabbinic luminaries such as the Chacham Tzvi and Panim Meiros. Rav Gelley’s great-grandfather had been the av beis din of his hometown. His father, Reb Menachem Gellai, was a wealthy businessman who hosted in his large home a 10-member kollel which he funded single-handedly. Reb Menachem could often be found learning in his house kollel.