(1885 - 1940)
Dr. Bernard Revel was the first president of Yeshiva
University. He was born in Kovno, Lithuania, and was recognized
at age six as an ilui, a Torah genius. He immigrated to the United States at age twenty-one, to an
America where it was extremely difficult for an Orthodox
Jew to maintain his spiritual identity and make a living. Shabbos first, then Kashrus observance
and Jewish education went by the wayside. As a result, many Orthodox
Jews left the fold.
He enrolled in the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological
Seminary, one of the predecessors of Yeshiva University. He also attended
Dropsie College in Philadelphia, and received the first Ph.D. that they
He felt that for Judaism to succeed in America, there needed to be an institution that would
combine classical Jewish Talmudical Studies with modern studies in all
Yeshiva University traces its origins to Yeshivas Eitz
Chaim, founded in 1886 on New Yorks Lower East Side. In 1896,
the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary was also founded there.
With the merger of those two schools in 1915, Yeshiva University was
born, and Dr. Bernard Revel was elected as its first president.
Under the leadership of Dr. Revel, who was president
from 1915 till his death in 1940, the university embarked on a plan
of educational development and growth. In 1929, the institution moved
to a magnificent campus in upper Manhattans Washington Heights.
Liberal arts programs began with the establishment of Yeshiva College
in 1928, and the first graduate curriculum (in Jewish studies) was introduced
Dr. Revel adopted the theme of Torah UMada,
Torah and secular knowledge, as the guiding philosophy of the institution
that would to a large extent define Modern Orthodoxy in the United States
and in the world.
In honor of its first president, Yeshiva University
named its graduate school of Advanced Jewish Studies the Bernard Revel
Union. Photo courtesy Yeshiva University