Einstein Chooses to Help Yeshiva College
Obviously, the two did not share the same religious and educational outlook. Revel believed in God as revealed in the Torah and in written and oral laws as understood by the rabbis over thousands of years. Einstein believed in the spiritual aspirations and the moral teachings of the Jews, and in the unity and harmony of the universe. Revel believed in a combination of yeshiva and college, but he considered religious education basic and central. Einstein believed in Jewish learning for the sake of its ethical and spiritual dimensions, but he highly valued modern secular education in the liberal arts, particularly science.
Beyond his personal admiration for Einstein, Revel hoped to win Einstein's active help in persuading donors to support the College he had recently founded. The original campaign for Yeshiva College had been launched in 1923, the land bought in 1924, the cornerstone laid in 1927, and the first class held on September 25,1928. The first full class of students graduated on June 16,1932. Because of the Depression, many donors were not able to honor their financial edges. As a result, only one of the buildings originally planned could be completed. For months on end the College could not pay faculty their salaries or meet its other financial obligations, and Revel was not always sure the Yeshiva would survive. It was therefore virtually inevitable that Revel would try to enlist Einstein's aid in raising the funds desperately needed to keep both yeshiva and college afloat. Indeed, Einstein's intermittent help proved a godsend.
From 1935 through 1940 Einstein remained quite willing to support the College writing directly to prospective donors whose names Dr. Revel and other college representatives sent him, though he occasionally complained about the potential ineffectiveness of his efforts. For instance, he once worried that too many letters would lead to diminishing returns, and he once claimed that a personal meeting would be better than a letter because he could speak frankly bout prejudice against Jewish students in other American colleges. Most of the donors lived on the East Coast, but Einstein also reached out to motion picture industry leaders in Hollywood and to friends of Dr. Revel's prosperous in-laws in Texas and Oklahoma. He refused to come to dinners, ceremonies, and benefits in person, not even to a dinner to raise money for Jewish refugee students who had found a new home at Yeshiva College. But he did send numerous public statements on behalf of the College to major fundraising events. Overall, he proved remarkably cooperative, and the evidence shows that many of his efforts over the years did in fact bear fruit. Unfortunately, Dr. Bernard Revel died Prematurely on December 2, 1940, bringing an end to their joint efforts.