Harav Shlomo Zalman Katz, zt”l, Rav of the Toldos Aharon beis medrash of Williamsburg, a renowned talmid chacham and oved Hashem, was niftar this past Erev Shabbos, 18 Sivan. He was 68 years old and had been suffering from illness for several years.
From the days of his youth until the decades he spent as a highly respected manhig, marbitz Torah, and moreh horaah, the Rav was distinguished for his tremendous hasmadah and the personal kedushah he exuded.
A celebrated baal darshan, his passionate drashos and shalosh seudos divrei Torah interwove the Rav’s phenomenal knowledge, originality, and great emotion for all aspects of Yiddishkeit. Often amid copious tears, the Rav could speak for long periods of time quoting endless sources in Chazal and a wide lexicon of sefarim, with a unique ability to arouse the same deep emotions in the hundreds that came to hear him.
True to the path he inherited from his hallowed father-in-law, the Rav was known to daven with great feeling for long periods of time. In the years that he led the Toldos Aharon kehillah in Williamsburg, the beis medrash became a magnet not only for those with a prior connection to the chassidus, but for a wide range of mevakshei Hashem from the community.
Harav Shlomo Zalman Katz was born in 1950 and grew up in Williamsburg, where his father, the Sombotheli Rav, Harav Yehoshua Katz, zt”l, led a beis medrash and was considered one of the neighborhood’s highly respected Rabbanim.
The young Shlomo Zalman first attended the Satmar Talmud Torah before continuing on to the Nitra Yeshivah in Mount Kisko. Spending endless hours pouring over his sefarim, he quickly became one of the yeshivah’s elite talmidim.
In 1968, he married Shifra Leah nee Kohn, the daughter of the previous Rebbe of Toldos Aharon, Harav Avraham Yitzchak Kohn, zy”a. The couple remained in Eretz Yisrael for many years. During this time, the Rav developed an exceptionally close bond to his father-in-law, of whom he constantly spoke and quoted in years to come.
While yet young, the Rav gained a reputation for his broad Torah knowledge and powerful speaking abilities. He regularly delivered shiurim in the Toldos Ahron beis medrash in Yerushalayim, completing all of Shas in one cycle of the shiur.
In 1985 the Rav and his family moved to America, first settling in Boro Park, where he served as menahel of the Satmar Yeshivah Ketanah. Several years later, they moved to Williamsburg, where he established the Toldos Aharon beis medrash.
Within a short time after settling in Williamsburg, the Rav became one of the community’s most valued Rabbanim. His drashos attracted hundreds of people, bringing many hearts to teshuvah. A multi-faceted talmid chacham, his reputation as a marbitz Torah and posek was noted by many who attended his shiurim and brought their she’eilos to him.
In addition to his harbotzas haTorah and passionate avodah, the Rav’s wisdom and caring heart attracted many in search of advice, guidance or an encouraging word.
The Rav had been suffering from illness for close to 10 years. He was niftar this past Friday in the early morning hours. The levayah, held that afternoon in the Toldos Ahron Beis Medrash in Williamsburg, was attended by hundreds of people followed by kevurah in Floral Park Cemetery in New Jersey, where his father, the Sombothlei Rav, is also buried.
The Rav is survived by, ybl”c, his wife, Rebbetzin Shifra Leah Katz; brothers Harav Chaim Leib Katz, Seredheli Rav, shlita, and Harav Asher Anshel Katz, Viener Rav, shlita; sister, Rebbetzin Gitty Pollack; sons, Harav Asher Anshel, Harav Aharon, and Harav Chaim Leib; daughters, Mrs. Dina Eichenstein, Mrs. Raizy Fried, Mrs. Bassy Rabinowitz and Mrs. Simi Moskowitz; as well as by many grandchildren.
Yehi zichro baruch