Bernard Revel - Builder of American Jewish Orthodoxy by Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff

By Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff

In 1906 a proficient younger Talmudic scholar
named Bernard Revel got here to the
United States within the wave of mass
immigration from jap Europe. "As he
looked approximately, he chanced on Orthodox
Judaism in a sorry, pathetic nation of chaos and confusion. The rabbis born and bredin Europe have been realized students and
masters of the spiritual legislations, in all its
minutiae. familiar with deference,
even reverence, as well-known specialists and neighborhood leaders, they got here right into a bordering on anarchy in
Jewish non secular existence, in a brand new land of
unprecedented tolerance and freedom.
with no wisdom of the English
language and American tradition, European
rabbis may command no recognize and
exert no influence at the young.
Bernard Revel made up our minds to create a
school of Talmudic examine that may also
provide an American university schooling
to provide American Orthodox
rabbis who may possibly mould and maintain a attainable real Judaism within the New World.
This is the tale of the guy and his
vision, and his success. From a
modest yeshiva in a synagogue building
on New York's reduce East aspect, to
imposing quarters at the heights of
Upper ny, Bernard Revel
steered the direction and improvement of
Yeshiva university, the 1st university of
liberal arts and sciences below Jewish
auspices, till it grew to become a effective
educational strength, a veritable dynamo, in
American Jewry, that remained
consistently dependable to its New-World imaginative and prescient ofTorah Judaism.

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Extra resources for Bernard Revel - Builder of American Jewish Orthodoxy

Sample text

From Napoleon Hill in Kovno, Napoleon is said to have watched his troops cross the Neman into Russian territory in 1812. As a Lithuanian Jewish center, Kovno was second only to Vilna. In 1897 its Jewish population numbered about thirty-seven thousand persons, or about one-half the total population. At this time Kovno was already a center for Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) and Zionist activities. But above all it was a citadel of Torah study. Scattered throughout the city were scores of kloyzn (private houses of study) where boys in their teens and young married men pursued their talmudic studies.

He realized that his idealistic plans for universal social justice and improvement would not come to fruition in Lithuania in the immediate future. He also wanted to continue his secular education on a university level. His parents were dead, and a half sister was already living in the United States. He heard much about the country from her, and his visions turned to this land of freedom and opportunity. Released from prison, Dov Revel, using the name Bernard Revel, arrived in the United States in 1906 at the age of twenty-one.

After the death of Kovno’s chief rabbi, Isaac Elchanan Spektor, on March 6, 1896, the school was dedicated to his eternal memory and was named the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. The new institution was popularly known as the Yeshiva, and continued the tradition of the European yeshivot in teaching Torah lishmah, to emphasize the study of Talmud and its commentaries solely for their own sake. The distinction between the vocation of the rabbinate and the avocation of Torah study was not emphasized or even clearly delineated in the European yeshiva system of education.

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