who's in the kitchen: judy joszef

As their buildings fall, recalling our days at BTA and Central


Although the last graduates of the Brooklyn Talmudical Academy (BTA) and the Central Yeshiva High School for Girls left the East 14th building over 35 years ago, it was still sad to hear about demolition of the buildings, which had been subsequently occupied by the Brooklyn Shulamith School for Girls. Jerry being a ’73 graduate of BTA and I, a ’77 of Central Brooklyn, we began to reminisce. 

Jerry's parents were excited that Jerry was going to BTA, which they thought was a "real yeshiva" that would help mold Jerry into a ben Torah from the primordial specimen who graduated Yeshiva Rambam. Jerry’s mom told him, "This is a fresh start.” She was so proud. 

Jerry remembers his first class in BTA with Rabbi Mirocznik (Miro) where BTA determined that combining the students with the lowest potential (Jerry and others from the golem class) with those with the greatest ability, would somehow inspire the "abby-normal" students to evolve into erudite scholars. Jerry remembers being intimidated, as the smart kids were … gulp … really really smart. He had no idea what he was doing stuck in a shiur with them. 

He was paired with Normy Gold, who was fully brilliant, charismatic and funny; Jerry was fully intimidated! How was he to keep up with these ubermench students. Instead it worked out beautifully, as they quietly sang "Wizard of Oz,” Al Jolson and similar songs together throughout the year. BTA turned out to be a great school. Incidentally, not one of the weaker students made any progress and BTA determined to segregate them into a newly launched "super garbage" class located in an unused section of the building. 

Jerry spoke about many BTA graduates who ended up evolving into great leaders who inspired Jerry's fundamental notions of what it means to be a Jew, particularly focused on the central importance of being part of the Jewish people. 

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