Einstein Honors Yeshiva College
It is instructive to compare Einstein's involvement with Yeshiva College to his relationships with two other Jewish institutions, Hebrew University and Brandeis university. In 1921, during his first visit to the United States, he joined Chaim Weizmann for a fundraising tour on behalf of Zionism in general and the establishment of Hebrew University in particular. On February 7,1923, in Palestine, he delivered the inaugural address for that University, symbolically beginning his speech in Hebrew before continuing in French. In 1925 he was elected to the Board of Governors and chaired its first meeting, but tension over highhanded, questionable academic decisions by Chancellor Judah Magnes eventually caused him to resign from the Board in 1928. He never returned despite repeated invitations by Weizmann, but after some reforms were instituted, he once again supported the institution, and late in his life he specified Hebrew University as the beneficiary of his collected papers.
In the spring of 1933, after anti-Semitic laws and policies led to the resignation and ouster of hundreds of German Jewish academics, Einstein conceived of a refugee Jewish university, "best placed in England," which would enable his colleagues to carry on their intellectual work. But this idea never came close to fruition. Instead, existing institutions and newly formed academic assistance societies helped the refugee scholars.
In 1946 Einstein began to chair the advisory committee of the Albert Einstein Foundation for Higher Learning, which sought to establish a secular university under Jewish auspices in Waltham, Massachusetts. The founders of the institution wanted to give it Einstein's name. He declined, then strongly supported naming the new university after their second choice, Louis D. Brandeis. But when Rabbi Israel Goldstein, the head of the Foundation, did not consult the advisory committee about who would become the president of the new institution, Einstein submitted a letter of resignation. After being temporarily coaxed back, he submitted his second and final letter of resignation in late 1947.
Disagreement over the decisions made by the earliest leaders of Hebrew and Brandeis Universities led Einstein to sever his ties with each. Seen in that context, Einstein's relationship with Yeshiva College, despite occasional friction, proved not only long-lasting but remarkably supportive and respectful.