Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy
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|Yeshiva University High School for Boys|
The Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy
Manhattan Talmudical Academy
2540 Amsterdam Avenue|
Washington Heights, NY 10033
|Type||Private, Yeshiva, Day|
|Sister school||Yeshiva University High School for Girls|
|Head of School||Rabbi Joshua Kahn|
|Faculty||44.0 (on FTE basis)|
|Student to teacher ratio||6.8:1|
|Color(s)||Blue and White|
|Accreditation||Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools|
The Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, also known as Yeshiva University High School for Boys (YUHSB), MTA (Manhattan Talmudical Academy) or TMSTA, is an Orthodox Jewish day school (or yeshiva), and is the boys' prep school of Yeshiva University (YU) in the Washington Heights neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan.
The Talmudical Academy (TA), as it was originally called, was founded in 1916 by Rabbi Dr. Bernard Revel. He had become president of the institution that was to become Yeshiva University a year earlier, in 1915, when the "Rabbinical College of America" (a short-lived name) had been formed from the merger of two older schools, an elementary school founded in 1886 and a rabbinical seminary founded in 1896. As the elementary school soon ceased to exist, the high school is thus one of the oldest components of the University.
TA was the first academic Jewish high school in America, and the first ever to feature a dual curriculum, now standard in Jewish schools, of Judaic and secular studies. It was originally located on the Lower East Side, and moved to Washington Heights with the rest of Yeshiva in the late 1920s. The building originally planned for the High School alone was shared with the other schools of the University for many years before the campus expanded; today, that building is almost entirely occupied by the High School, and the other buildings of the University's main campus (including a dormitory for MTA students) surround it.
TA was later joined by a brother school, the Brooklyn Talmudical Academy ("BTA"), founded in the 1940s. While the Manhattan school remained, officially, "TA," it became popularly known as "MTA," the Manhattan Talmudical Academy, and, rarely, the Uptown Talmudical Academy, or "UTA." While the name "MTA" has never been official, it remains the most popular name for the school. Two girls' high schools were founded as well, Central Yeshiva High School in Brooklyn in the 1950s and a Manhattan school in the 1960s. Eventually, all four were eventually simply named by borough and gender, e.g., "Yeshiva University High School for Boys- Manhattan," but the popular names remained.
In 1967, the Brooklyn school moved to a joint campus created by repurposing the historical Vitagraph Studios in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. In the 1970s, they were closed and merged into their Manhattan counterparts. In the 1980s, the girls' school was merged into a Queens school. The latter is now called "Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls" (or simply "Wang"), but is still commonly referred to as "Central," while the boys' school, since the 1970s, has been known as "The Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy- Yeshiva University High School for Boys" (or simply "TMSTA" or, more recently, "MSTA"), but is still commonly referred to as "MTA." Principals of the school included the founding principal, Shelley Safire, and Rabbis David Weinbach (1973-1987), Mordechai Spiegelman (1987-1991), George Finkelstein (1991-1995), Michael Taubes (1995-1999 and 2011-2016), Michael Hecht (1999-2005), Mark Gottlieb and Yaakov Sklar (2005-2011), and Josh Kahn (2016-present).
The school's enrollment peaked during the '60s and '70s, when relatively few competitor schools existed. However, with the growth of competing institutions, enrollment declined, and by 1999, Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, President of Yeshiva University, wanted to close the high school down. When word of the imminent closure leaked out, Rabbi Michael Taubes, MTA's principal at that time, together with senior instructor, Rabbi Yitzchok Cohen, led a student protest and recitation of Psalms in front of the YU's main building at that time, Furst Hall. Although the protest led to Rabbi Taubes' dismissal, and eventually to the dismissal of Cohen as well (both became instructors in other divisions of Yeshiva University, and Rabbi Taubes in 2008 became a teacher at the high school and became principal again in 2011), their prompt action is credited with swaying Rabbi Lamm to not close the school. Rabbi Taubes was rehired by MTA to serve as the Rebbe (Teacher) of one of the two incoming freshmen honors Talmud classes for the 2008-2009 school year.
Rabbi Michael Hecht, who had been teaching at the school for many years and also served as a Dean in Yeshiva College, became Dean of MTA and effectively saved the school. In September 2005, Rabbi Mark Gottlieb, formerly the Principal of Maimonides Day School in Boston, assumed the role of Head of School. In February 2011, Rabbi Mark Gottlieb announced that he would be stepping down as Head of School/Menahel at the culmination of the 2010-2011 academic year. His successor was former principal Rabbi Michael Taubes, who took over as Head of School (now also known by the Hebrew title of Rosh HaYeshiva at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year. In October 2015 it was announced that the school would begin a search for a new Head of School. Rabbi Taubes would continue on in an evolved capacity as Rosh Yeshiva at both RIETS and the high school. In March 2016, it was announced that the school's next leader would be Rabbi Joshua Kahn, a noted and accomplished educator in the NY area. Rabbi Kahn began his tenure in July 2016.
MTA is currently led by Miriam Goldberg, Chair; Rabbi Joshua Kahn, Head of School; Rabbi Michael Taubes, Rosh Yeshiva; Joshua Jacoby, Executive Director; Dr. Seth Taylor, Principal of General Studies; Rabbi Shimon Schenker, Associate Principal; Rabbi Dov Emerson, Director of Teaching and Learning; Elie Hirt, Director of Student Activities.
The main value of the school is based on that of Yeshiva University, namely Torah Umadda. This idea emphasizes teaching both Limudei Kodesh (Torah studies) and general (secular) studies. Limudei Kodesh classes are taught in Jewish studies including Gemara (Talmud), Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), and Halakha (Jewish law). These classes comprise the morning session of the day. In the afternoon session, the students participate in a general studies program. Many of these classes end with Regents or Advanced Placement tests.
In December 2012, a scandal developed alleging widespread sexual misconduct by two high ranking male faculty members and perpetrated on multiple male students. The alleged misconduct, which occurred during the 1970s and 1980s, was claimed to have been known about, but ignored, by the highest levels of administration at the high school and at Yeshiva University.  The current president of Yeshiva University issued a statement stating that the university will examine the allegations. The Jewish Week uncovered a story, further alleging knowledge of the inappropriate behavior by the university. The story alleges that the door to one of the abuser's offices was removed, possibly, to prevent a private environment where further misconduct could continue. The lawsuit against Yeshiva University was tossed before trial in January 2014 by a federal judge who stated that the statute of limitations had long expired .
The school offers morning classes in Gemara and Tanakh. In the afternoon the school offers secular classes, including numerous AP courses. Students in the 10th grade may take AP European History. The 11th grade may take courses in AP Calculus AB, AP Physics, AP Biology, and AP Computer Science. The 12th grade may take courses in AP U.S. History, AP English Literature, AP Calculus BC, and AP Macroeconomics. Modern Hebrew and Spanish are also taught. Additionally, seniors have the option to take courses in Yeshiva College and Sy Syms School of Business. Almost all classes offered within the school are open at a number of different levels including low, regular, and honors sections.
Beit Midrash Katan
In the '06-'07 school year, MTA started an advanced Talmud Shiur for the top 12th grade students called the Beis Medrash Katan. The Beis Medrash Katan, commonly referred to as "BMK," has more hours for Torah study. The purpose of the program is to give the school's top Talmud students a feel for a real beit midrash, which many of the students will be enrolled in the following year and possibly many more. The Beis Medrash Katan also encourages its students to develop habits of "budding Talmidei Chachamim." The Rebbe who teaches and supervises the Beis Medrash Katan is Rabbi Tanchum Cohen. In 2011-2012 Rabbi Michael Hecht joined the BMK staff, until his retirement in June 2014. Building on the amazing success of the 12th grade BMK, MTA decided for the 2010-2011 year to create BMK's for their top 10th and 11th grade shuirim.
The students in the school are able to participate in many extracurriculars, which meet after school and during lunches. On the athletic side, the school fields Varsity and Junior Varsity basketball, hockey, and wrestling, as well as fencing, baseball, softball, swimming, and soccer teams. For the more intellectually inclined, there are College Bowl, Torah Bowl, Mock Trial, Model UN, Model Congress, Chess, SABR, Debate, MTAhackers, a 3d printing club, a Math team, as well as the Business and Finance Club. The Chess team has recently experienced tremendous success, having won the Yeshiva League Chess Championship in both 2017 and 2018. The school also has 2 robotics teams that participate in the FIRST Tech Challenge (teams 5361 and 13475). In 2018, team 13475 made it to the FTC East Super Regional. Clubs are constantly created by students, when there is an adequate demand for the particular club in question. Faculty members act as advisors for the majority of clubs. The students also publish a number of publications including Telios Thought (political magazine),The Academy News (school newspaper), Shema Koleinu (weekly Dvar Torah newsletter), Yagdil Torah (Torah essay journal), HaTzioni (Zionist publication), Pearls of Wisdom (book of students' literary works and as of 2011 Art work), and the Elchanite (yearbook).
Recently, the school has been supervising international trips for select groups of students. In 2004, a group of students spent Shavuot in Belarus in coordination with YUSSR. In 2005, the HaTzioni club, in cooperation with the Palau Mission to the United Nations, arranged a trip for its members to travel to Palau to show the Jewish community's gratitude for Palau's support of Israel. Recent years have seen MTA delegations being sent to Turkey, Germany, Poland, and Israel.
- Head of School: Rabbi Joshua Kahn
- Rosh Yeshiva: Rabbi Michael Taubes
- Executive Director: Mr. Joshua Jacoby
- Principal for General Studies: Dr. Seth Taylor
- Associate Principal: Rabbi Shimon Schenker
- Director of Teaching and Learning: Rabbi Dov Emerson
- 9th grade- Rabbi Eli Cohn
- 10th grade- Rabbi Elon Soniker
- 11th grade- Rabbi Netanel Danto
- 12th grade- Rabbi Avraham Shulman
- Rabbi Dr. Sidney B. Hoenig, (class of 1923), Dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University and president of the Jewish Welfare Board.
- Rabbi Moses Mescheloff, (Class of 1926), leading 20th century Rabbi
- Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, (class of 1927), leading 20th century Rabbi.
- Rabbi Mordechai Gifter (1933), Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe yeshiva, Cleveland, Ohio.
- Harry Walker, (1934), founder of leading speakers' bureau, the Harry Walker Agency.
- Bill Mazer (1937), famous American Radio and Television personality.
- Rabbi Tzvi Dov (Harold) Kanatopsky, (1939), first American born Rosh Yeshiva at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.
- Rabbi Nachman Bulman, (1942), leading 20th century Rabbi.
- Rabbi Saul J. Kassin, (1942), Chief Rabbi, of Congregation Shaare Zion and the Community of the Syrian Jews, Brooklyn, NY.
- Rabbi Dr. Yehuda (Leo) Levi, (1942), author, of numerous scholarly works on Jewish Studies and Optics.
- Rabbi Chaim Dov Altusky, (1943), author, series of works on the Talmud, Chiddushei Basra.
- Chaim Potok, (1946), renowned Jewish American author.
- Rabbi Shlomo Brevda, (1947), renowned Maggid.
- Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, (1947), Dean (Menahel) Emeritus of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.
- Prof. Yosef H. Yerushalmi, (1948), Jewish historian and Salo Wittmayer Baron Professor of Jewish History, Culture and Society; director, Institute for Jewish and Israel Studies at Columbia University.
- Rabbi Dr. Irving Greenberg, (BTA class of 1949), renowned scholar and author.
- Rabbi Meir Kahane, (BTA class of 1949), founder of the Jewish Defense League and former Israeli Knesset member. Controversial activist.
- Dr. Hillel Furstenberg, (1951), Leading Israeli mathematician and Winner of the Israel Prize
- Velvel Pasternak (1951), authority on Jewish Music.
- Dr. Fred Rosner (1951), authority on Jewish Law and Medicine.
- Dr. Joel Rosenshein, (1952), founder, Ptach, Orthodox Jewish Special Education service.
- Prof. Nat Lewin, (1953), prominent American lawyer.
- Dr. Mandel Ganchrow, (BTA class of 1954), Orthodox Jewish lay leader.
- Rabbi Harvey Senter, (BTA class of 1954), founder, Kof-K Kosher supervision service.
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff, (1955), noted scholar, author and teacher.
- Rabbi Shimon Eider, (BTA class of 1956), prominent Halachic authority.
- Prof Jacob Nusbacher MD (BTA class of 1956), haematologist-oncologist, public health physician, National Director, Canadian Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service, 1990-1991.
- Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, (BTA class of 1956), prominent Rabbinic leader in the US and in Israel, founder of Lincoln Square Synagogue and Chief Rabbi of Efrat.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter, (1958), leading American Orthodox Rosh Yeshiva and Rabbinic authority.
- Dr. Leonard Feiner, (BTA, class of 1961), prominent ophthalmologist and philanthropist.
- Prof. Eli Turkel, (1961), Professor of Applied Mathematics at the School of Mathematical Sciences, Tel Aviv University.
- Dr. Jonathan Zizmor, (1962), dermatologist.
- Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, (1963), founder and president of the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) .
- Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, (BTA, class of 1964), rabbi, author and lecturer.
- Rabbi Menachem Genack, (1965), CEO of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division.
- Prof. David Shatz, (1965), Professor of Philosophy at Yeshiva University, Associate Professor of Religion at Columbia University, and editor of The Torah u-Madda Journal.
- Rabbi Nachum Sauer, (1965), head of the Kollel of Los Angeles
- Dov S. Zakheim, (BTA class of 1966), former official of the United States government.
- Efraim Zuroff, (MTA, 1966), historian and Nazi Hunter
- Rabbi Avishai David, (1967), Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Torat Shraga.
- Rabbi Hershel Billet, (BTA, class of 1967), senior rabbi of the Young Israel of Woodmere.
- Rabbi Raphael Marcus, (1968), leading rabbi in the Toronto Jewish Community.
- Rabbi Koppel Paretzky, (1968), rabbi and Rosh Kollel in Monsey.
- Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, (1968), founder and current president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
- Richard Joel, (1968), president of Yeshiva University.
- Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, (BTA, class of 1969), rabbi in Englewood, NJ, first person from West Hempstead, NY to become a rabbi.
- Stan Kasten, (1969), president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, formerly president of the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers, and Washington Nationals
- Dr. Maish Yarmush, (BTA, class of 1970), Professor of Biomedical Engineering Rutgers University and Harvard Medical School
- Yossi Klein Halevi, (BTA class of 1971), author and journalist.
- Rabbi Ephraim Kanarfogel, (1973), scholar of medieval Jewish history and rabbinic literature, and expert in Jewish law.
- Rabbi Yona Reiss, Dean (Menahel) of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.
- Rabbi Yaakov Jaffe, principal of Maimonides in Brookline, MA.
- Rabbi Eli Jacobs, Rabbi in Yeshivas Sha'ar Yoshuv and renowned motivational speaker.
- Alan Dershowitz, (BTA), lawyer, author, professor at Harvard Law School
- Jason Dov Greenblatt, (MTA, Class of 1985), Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer at The Trump Organization
- Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, (MTA, Class of 1987), President of Yeshiva University
- Elon Gold, (MTA, Class of 1988), Actor
- Avi Muchnick (MTA, Class of 1997), Founder of Aviary
- Robert J. Avrech, (BTA), noted screenwriter.
- Ralph Lauren, American fashion designer and business executive (did not graduate from MTA but attended the school for two years).
- Shalom Auslander, writer, Woodstock, NY.