Rav Zachariah Gelley zt”l, Rov of KAJ

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It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the passing of Rav Zachariah Gelley zt”l, rov of K’hal Adath Jeshurun (KAJ) in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan in New York City. He was 85 years old.

Rav Gelley was a noted talmid chochom and manhig, who guided KAJ, which is comprised of an elementary yeshiva for boys and girls, a Bais Yaakov middle school for girls, a mesivta high school for boys, a bais medrash and kollel, a mikvah, a kashrus supervisory organization, a chevra kadisha, and more.

Rav Gelley hailed from Tapolcany, Slovakia, and survived the horrors of World War II by hiding, enduring imprisonment and other tribulations.

Rav Gelley immigrated to England, where he settled in London.

Rav Gelley later became a marbitz Torah at the Sunderland Yeshiva. He influenced and guided hundreds of talmidim.

Rav Gelley ultimately relocated to the United States, joining KAJ in 1985, working side by side with Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l.

In 1995, with Rav Schwab’s petirah, Rav Gelley became the sole rov of KAJ. KAJ is now led by Rav Yisroel Mantel.

In addition to his Torah knowledge and leadership, Rav Gelley was renowned for his kindness and compassion, helping an untold number of number through his position of mara d’asra of the famed Breuer’s kehillah. Rav Gelley and his rebbetzin opened their home to those who came to seek his counsel, his p’sak, or merely a word of encouragement.  

Rav Gelley is survived by his wife, Rebbetzin Angeline Gelley, and an illustrious family, including his children, Mrs. Miri Schechter, Dayan Menachem Gelley, Mrs. Esther Hochhauser, Rabbi Meir Gelley, Mrs. Rochel Knopfler, Rabbi Rephoel Gelley, Mrs. Sara Kranz, Mr. Dovid Gelley, Mr. Shlomo Gelley, and Mrs. Tzippy Scheinberg, and many grandchildren.

Rav Gelley resided for the last few years in Lakewood, as he battled illness. A brief levaya will take place at Bais Medrash Govoah, on Seventh Street, at the Yoshon Building, in Lakewood, NJ. at 3 p.m. The levayah will take place tomorrow, Friday, at 10 a.m., at Khal Adath Jeshurun, located at 85 Bennett Ave in Manhattan. Kevurah will follow at King Solomon Cemetery in Clifton, NJ, at about noon.

Yehi zichro boruch.



  1. “Prior to Rav Gelley, KAJ was led until 1995 by Rav Shimon Schwab, who Rav Gelley replaced.”

    Rav Schwab z”l, in his later years, had health problems, and stepped back from some of his rabbinical functions a number of years before he was niftar. As Rav Breuer z”l had done in his later years, in favor of Rav Schwab. Rav Gelley z”l was actually inaugurated as Rav at KAJ in 1987, while Rav Schwab was still around.

    A nice video with footage from the inauguration, with prominent personalities, including Rav Schwab z”l, can be seen at http://breuers2gether.com/history/inauguration-rav-gelley/ and/or at the breuers2gether youtube channel

    Other videos of Rav Gelley as well as other KAJ related videos can be seen at the same sites as well.

  2. Rav Gelley zecher Tzadik L’vracha. An outstanding tzadik – gaon in torah avoda -gaon in “hidden gemilos chasadim -gaon in midos tovos and neimus This is a great loss for klal yisroel indeed !

  3. Rav Gelley Z’TL. Mi yiten lanu t’muraso ! –A gaon in torah -a gaon in avoda- gaon in hidden gemilus chasadim -a gaon in neimus. A great loss for klal yisroel indeed !

  4. Prior to “Reb Zechariya” ( as we affectionally called him in Sunderland Yeshiva ) zt”l came to Sunderland he was living and learning in Gateshead kollel for a number of years in the early 60’s.He joined the hanholoh of the yeshiva in 1965 / 1966,when then a large contingent of ashkenazi bochurim were attracted to the yeshivah…..Rav Zechariya zt”l himself learned for a time in the yeshiva shortly after it was established after the war for refugee bochurim who had just arrived in England……..A humourous comment was once made by the Sunderland Rosh Yeshiva Rav Shammai Zahn zt”l.He was himself in 1945 /1946 learning in Gateshead kollel,when the original founders of the yeshivah,Rav Zishe Waltner zt”l and Rav (later Dayan) Aryeh Leib Grosnass zt”l asked him “to help out” at the yeshiva,which he did ever so dedicatedly including travelling to raise funds besides everything else expected of a R”Y…..Some 35 – 40 years later he said ” i was originally asked to help out,and i am still helping out”…….BD”E,Rav Zecharyah zt”l will be greatly mourned and missed by all his talmidim and by all who knew him.


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