Photos: Historic BMG Bais Medrash Reduced to Rubble

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bmg-bais-eliyahu[Photos below.] Lakewood, NJ – America’s largest yeshiva is constantly growing and expanding, working to accommodate its burgeoning body of talmidim

Beth Medrash Govoha is in the midst of a months-long commemoration of Rav Aharon Kotler’s 50th yahrtzeit, which will culminate next month, but, at the same time, changes are taking place at the yeshiva‘s campus in the heart of Lakewood.

The yeshiva’s first auxiliary bais medrash, Bais Eliyahu, which closed last zeman, was torn down on Thursday and Friday. The main part of Bais Eliyahu consisted of modular trailers that were incorporated in 1989 as a temporary bais medrash. The trailers had earlier been utilized by Bais Faiga Girls School as classrooms situated on the corner of Eighth Street and Forest Avenue. When Bais Faiga’s current building opened, the trailers were moved to their current location on Seventh Street at Private Way.

The yeshiva had been experiencing growth for some time but had little money for new buildings. All available room in the Beren Building was in use, including some of the local battei medrashim. The yeshiva thus resorted to the next best option, trailers, that were able to alleviate the space shortage at least for the time being. These trailers, with their low ceilings and minimal furnishings, became a home for Torah for 23 years.

Shortly after Bais Eliyahu opened, one of the longstanding supporters of Beth Medrash Govoha, Reb Elias (Eliyahu) Klein z”l, was niftar and his family dedicated the new bais medrash in his memory. Mr. Klein and his brothers, Stephen and Martin Klein, were staunch supporters of the roshei yeshiva, Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l and Rav Shneur Kotler zt”l, in the yeshiva and in many of their klal initiatives. Stephen Klein played a leading role in the Vaad Hatzolah efforts as well as Chinuch Atzmai. Martin Klein was very involved in the yeshiva too, and the yeshiva‘s main dormitory on Sixth Street is named the Martin Klein Dormitory in his memory.

The Klein family is still involved in the yeshiva, with their many children and grandchildren learning at and staunchly supporting Beth Medrash Govoah.

Bais Eliyahu played a vital role in the yeshiva‘s phenomenal growth over the past two decades. It became the bais medrash dedicated for “other” yeshiva limudim, eventually covering the breadth of Shas and poskim. The chaburah system, in which seats are allocated to talmidei hayeshiva on a chaburah basis, was first implemented in Bais Eliyahu, and once it was proven successful, it was instituted throughout the yeshiva as well.

Bais Eliyahu became the bais medrash of choice for many yungeleit, who appreciated the opportunity to learn in close proximity to senior talmidei chachomim who are proficient in Shas and poskim. When the Bais Ahron bais medrash on Tenth Street opened two years ago, the Bais Eliyahu chaburos moved there and Bais Eliyahu became the home for chaburos learning the main yeshiva masechta.

Over time, the back portion of Bais Eliyahu was established as an additional bais medrash, and for many years it housed the Dirshu chaburah. A front annex was later added as well. Thus, the temporary Bais Eliyahu structure became a near permanent facility, vastly outliving its original plan of use of just a few years. The building became old and worn, yet the seats remained filled, day after day, zeman after zeman, year after year, with talmidim poring over their seforim.

The Bais Eliyahu building at the corner of Seventh Street and Private Way was taken down this past week to make room for a new, massive bais medrash that will be built on the site. A large hanochas even hapinah will take place on Sunday, November 18, at the site, capping a weekend marking the 50th yahrtzeit of Rav Aharon Kotler. A multi-day program, with shiurim, asifos and divrei chizuk with the participation of many esteemed talmidim of the rosh yeshiva zt”l, is being planned.

See below for photos of the demolition:

{Dov Newscenter/Photos: Walden Studios}


  1. Please change this title. When I saw it, it sounded like chalilah there had been a terrible incident at BMG. B”H this is a planned thing. The title does not reflect this. Please modify it. Thank you.

  2. For a short time when I was staying in Denver, Colorado, I was privileged to spend a little bit of time at Yeshiva Toras Chaim there. At that time, the yeshiva moved from its original location in the building of a small shul to a much larger facility in the building of what had been a very large shul. On the day that the official move took place, there was a whole celebration program with a Hachnosos Sefer Torah from the old location to the new.

    Before leaving the old Beis Medrosh, the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yisroel Meir Kagan, Sh’lita, gave a short speech. Almost breaking into tears, he exclaimed how we were now leaving a (sacred) room in whose walls so very much Torah was learned!

    Rav Kagan — who incidently was one of the Gedolei Talmidim of Rav Aharon, ZT’L, in the earlier days of B.M.G. — would certainly exclaim the same thing now regarding Beis Eliyahu!

    Of course, we realize that this is a S’tira L’Tzoerech Binyan – a tearing down in order to build up.

  3. Before I was privileged to attend a yeshiva, I had went to a couple of public schools. Of course, they all had very good very well built modern buildings for their facilities. But where there was a need for some additional space, there was no hesitation at all to bring in trailer classrooms. Only there, they did not call them “trailers,” they called them “portables” or “portable classrooms.”

    This was especially at the junior high school that I went to. [There are two set ups of the school grades. One form is that 1st grade through 8th grade is called “elementary school” and 9th grade through 12th grade is called “high school.” Another form is that 1st grade through 6th grade is called “elementary school,” then 7th grade through 9th grade is called “junior high school,” and then 10th grade through 12th grade is called “senior high school” or just plain “high school.” (At some point, I do not know when it was, the term “junior high school” was dropped, and instead, those grades are now called “middle school.”)]

    The school has a huge, spead out, beautiful campus with several modern buildings. When I first came there (for 7th grade), there were also four portables. The next year, they added another row of four (or five?) more — placing them right in the middle of what had previously been a nice open plaza!

    In my three years that I was there, I remember that at least SIX of the classes that I was in were in those portables.

    In the very many years since then, the school has not gotten rid of the portables; on the contrary, they have added more! A current campus map shows thatr there are now — 16 portables!!!!

    Now, this is amajor school that is part of the public school system of a moderate sized American city. So they obviously have well more than the needed resources to build new buildings, had they wanted to. The fact that they did not shows that, that was not a priority for them.

  4. I was privileged to be part of Beis Medrosh Gevoha during the time that the Beis Eliyahu building was being put up. As this article relates, a group of trailer/portable classroom units, which had been previously been used by Beis Feiga, were taken. Two of the parallel walls of each unit were removed, then, the remaining shells (the other two parallel walls with the roof) of these units were joined together to form one big building. (Of course, the units which would be put at the front and the back of the structure had only one wall removed so that the “leftover” walls could form the front and back walls of the structure.)

    On the inside of the structure, the main large space became the Beis Medrosh, in front of this was a little lobby, on one side of this lobby was a large washroom, on the other side and in the back were four small rooms: One for further study space, one for giving Chaburas, one for a small library, and one for coffee and snacks.

    As this article further relates, later on, various further renovations and additions were done.

    Overall, the structure was a really beautiful looking building. That it was made mostly of wood, gave it a bit of a reflection of the old structures of the Botei Medroshim in Eastern Europe, many of which were built of wood.


    Yes, the Beis Eliyahu building was made using and putting together parts of portable/trailer classrooms.


    So for anyone to even think in a degrading way: “Aw, we learned in a bunch of trailers!” —


    First of all, as I related in detail in my earlier comment, in the public schools that I went to — and again, in these public schools which have plenty of money and resources and could thus easily put up new buildings whenever they wanted — IT WAS NO SHAME OR ANYTHING DEGRADING AT ALL TO “LEARN IN PORTABLE TRAILERS”!!

    And second of all, as I just explained,


    Yes, the bulk of the material for the building was from PARTS of trailers, but then, this material was made into A BUILDING — not trailers!!


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