Einstein Sets Limits and Insists on a Question
Especially in America, Einstein was constantly invited to endorse commercial products, and he invariably refused. In 1936 Salomon Flink, a professor of economics at Yeshiva College, sent him a batch of fundraising letters, and on November 5, in a letter to Revel, Einstein flatly refused to put his name to them. The problem cannot have been the raising of money or a worthy cause, for Einstein had been doing that since his first visit to America in 1921. In fact, Einstein had sometimes 'sold' his autograph or an autographed picture to raise money for charity. Nor can the problem have been the solicitation of funds from prosperous businessmen, for Einstein signed numerous letters of that kind on behalf of Yeshiva College. When asked during his visit to Palestine in 1923 whether he had any sage advice for the Zionists, he replied, “Collect more money.” Perhaps the letters offered some sort of quid pro quo such as the use of Einstein's name for business purposes.
A more serious potential setback in 1937 led to a friendly yet testy exchange tween Einstein and Revel. Sometime before March 2, having heard that faculty were chosen in part for religious reasons and that some students had been expelled for failing to observe specific religious practices, Einstein shared his objections with Prof. Leo Zippin, an instructor of mathematics at the College. Einstein wanted the most qualified faculty to be hired and the brightest students to succeed; he felt that no one should be deprived of the opportunity to teach or earn for religious reasons. In a letter dated March 12, Revel first asks for Einstein's help in convincing “Mr. Warner” and a group of his friends to support Yeshiva College, then responds vigorously to Einstein's potentially damaging assertions. The list of expelled students Revel sent to Einstein apparently does not survive, but analogous lists exclusively cite inferior academic performance as the reason or expulsion. According to one document, sanctions for not attending prayer services included contacting parents and withdrawing the privilege of staying in the dormitory, not expulsion. Overall, the interchange demonstrates Einstein's priority: the contemporary education of individual Jews. It also demonstrates the persistence of the relationship between Revel and Einstein despite the potential setback.
The importance of their relationship became apparent when Bernard Revel died on December 2, 1940, severing the main linked between Einstein and Yeshiva College. Revel's successor Samuel Belkin did inform Einstein in 1945 of the expansion of the College into a university, but it was not until the early 1950s, in connection with a new medical school, that Belkin and Einstein worked together to add one last, crucial chapter to the story of "Einstein and Yeshiva University."