Talmudical Academy of Baltimore

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The Talmudical Academy of Baltimore (Hebrew: ישיבת חפץ חיים), otherwise known as T.A., is a K–12 yeshiva founded in 1917. Its present campus, located at 4445 Old Court Road, includes an elementary school building, middle and high school building, two gymnasiums, a dormitory, a computer lab, and two study halls which double as prayer sanctuaries.


T.A. was founded in 1917 Baltimore Parochial Hebrew School by Rav Avraham Nachman Schwartz זצ"ל.[1] The first enrolled student was Rabbi Dr. Zalman Naftali Skaist זצ"ל,(born in 1911) himself to become a noted pioneer in American Jewish education. Talmudical Academy was located on Cottage Avenue until a fire caused by one of the custodians destroyed the building.[citation needed] The Yeshiva then moved to its present location on Old Court.

Staff and curriculum[edit]

Former Rebbeim of note include:[2]



The Elementary and Middle School curricula include all the basic studies: English, Math, Social Studies and Science. The High School curriculum includes Algebra (1&2), Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, World History, American History, English, and Jewish History (1&2). Advanced Placement courses that TA has offered in the past include Physics, American History, European History, and English Literature. Seniors may optionally take college courses for English 101 and Psychology 101 provided by Baltimore City Community Community College (BCCC)


Talmud study begins in 5th grade at an introductory level. Talmudic study in earnest begins in 8th grade with its division into Bekius and Iyyun. Tractates that are studied with the Bekius method include Rosh Hashanah (Talmud), Sotah, Ta'anit (Talmud), Megillah (Talmud) and others. Shorter Tractates are usually chosen. Unlike many other Lithuanian-Style Yeshivas, TA does not have a set cycle of Tractates that it studies, rather every year the new Tractate is selected in a Faculty meeting. Mishna is studied until 5th grade. The learning of Tanakh is encouraged by most Rabbis on the Faculty, though it is not a primary subject. Most set aside time in the morning for the study of Halacha. This is generally, however, a mere formality.

Beis Medrash[edit]

Until 1998, a Bais Medrash-level shiur was given by Rabbi Yosef Rottenberg. When he became too ill to continue giving the shiur, the Bais Medrash was discontinued. At the end of 2004, HaRav Yisrael Asia was brought in to lead the Beis Medrash, which he did for the 2004–05 and 2005–06 school years. During the 2005/06 year, Rav Avrohom Notis also gave shiur to the Beis Medrash. In 2006–07, the Bais Medrash was resurrected yet again by Rabbi Bentzion Mellman and Rabbi Dovid Hoffman. Rabbi Mellman acted as Rosh Beis Medrash and Instructor of Iyyun (a slower, more in-depth Talmudic analysis) and Rabbi Hoffman as the "Sho'el u-Maishiv" (study-hall mentor) and Instructor of B'kius (a faster, less in-depth method of Talmudic study). The inaugural Class consisted of seven members; however three more students joined the Program in the middle of the year. The program continued through the 2008–09 year, but has been discontinued for the time being.

Extra-curricular activities[edit]

T.A. used to have a varsity basketball team. They were called the Fighting Davids in the '70s and '80s. In the '90s they became the Tigers. The team reached its zenith in the Tamir Goodman era, which was in the late '90s and early 2000s. The team name was changed to the "Thunder".

Torah Youth Association was loosely connected with T.A. The Association, headed by Gavi Cohn, and continues to serve as an outlet for teenage boys to play sports and hang out in an environment that fully agrees with Jewish Orthodox social customs. The T.Y.A. sponsored a flag football league near T.A. which was very popular.The association also hosted tennis and pizza nights on Saturday Night, as well as a yearly Super Bowl Party. T.Y.A. also hosted shabbatons at the Pearlstone Center, in Western Maryland, as well as Camp Shoresh.

T.A. has always been the site of many informal sports and other leisurely activities, such as the (now defunct) chess club, debate club, and the 'tag club' of the mid-1990s. There was a short-lived varsity baseball team, led by Paul Blitz, a U.S. Army Reserve soldier.

In the late 1970s, National Football League player Mike Collier briefly served as gym teacher.

A Mishmar program is currently available for middle school students. 6th and 7th grade Mishmar starts after school ends at 5:15.

Notable visitors[edit]

T.A. has hosted a number of famous Roshei Yeshiva, and other scholars of repute. The list includes: Rav Mendel Blachman (Ra"m at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh), Rav Yechezkel Yaakovson, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Sha'alvim, Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky (Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia), Rav Aharon Lopiansky (Yeshiva of Silver Spring), Rav Daniel Mechanic (Aish- Discovery), Rav Reuven Feinstein, Rabbi Zeleg Pliskin, Rabbi Yehuda Peretz, Steven Hill, Rabbi Yerachmiel Millstein, Rav Noach Orlowek ( Mashgiach Yeshivas Torah Ore), Rabbi Aharon Schechter, Rabbi Asher Zeleg Rubinstein Zt"l (Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Torah Simcha), among many others. The yeshiva has also had the privilege to host Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, שליט"א.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ http://personal.stevens.edu/~llevine/abraham_n_schwartz.pdf
  2. ^ "Recollections and Reflections". Wherewhatwhen.com. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  3. ^ "A Conversation with Dr. Ronald and Mrs. Ruth Friedman". Wherewhatwhen.com. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  4. ^ Eilat Gordin Levitan. "Milikowsky Family". Eilatgordinlevitan.com. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  5. ^ "THS 90. An Interview with Happiness Expert Rabbi Zelig Pliskin". Video.google.com. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°22′04″N 76°44′50″W / 39.3677°N 76.7473°W / 39.3677; -76.7473