Rabbi Dr. Abraham N. Zuroff passed away peacefully at the age of 92 in Jerusalem on Sunday August 3rd. He is widely remembered as the legendary founding principal of BTA (Brooklyn Talmudic Academy, or Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Brooklyn, NY).
Rabbi Zuroff built one of the rare educational institutions that was able to synthesize deep authentic Jewish learning with modern cutting-edge and culturally successful American education. In that specific period of American Jewish history, it took the steadfast and uncompromising devotion of the American born Abraham Zuroff to demonstrate that the two could be combined in a way that would attract Jewish youth to the unique fusion of authentic Jewishness and authentic wordliness (rather than a watered down version of either). He was among the few American Hebrew day school principals of his day sympathetic also to Yiddish.
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Zuroff was principal of the school for over thirty years (“a life sentence,” he would famously quip) and during that time also became the supervisor of all of Yeshiva University’s high schools. The funeral was held Monday morning at Eretz Hachaim Cemetery near Bet Shemesh.
Video of Abraham Zuruff’s 90th birthday celebration (2012). Presentation and his own remarks start at around 1:48 of the timecode.
For his thousands of students, his life was a central inspiration. It is poetically symbolic that he left our world on the eve of the Jewish mourning day Tishebov (Tisha B’Av) that starts this evening, and commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem remembered tenaciously by Jews not only as a day of permanent memory and sadness but at the same time a reminder of the need to rebuild and recreate with a lot of hard work and stubborn steadfastness in the pursuit of quality.
Abraham Zuroff’s original research includes the book The Responsa of Maimonides (NY 1966, 804 pp.) on the replies to queries of the 12th century rabbi-physician-philosopher whose life and work demonstrate that same special synthesis of the authentic Jewish and the authentically scientific, worldly, and modern.