Birth of Bernard Revel

US #2193 from the Great Americans Series.

Rabbi and scholar Bernard Revel was born on September 17, 1885, in Prienai, Russia (present-day Lithuania). 

Revel first studied under his father, who was also a rabbi.  After his father’s death in 1896, Revel studied under other local rabbi’s and graduated from high school through independent study.  Revel participated in the Russian revolutionary movement and was arrested and imprisoned following the revolution of 1905.

After he was released in 1906, Revel moved to the United States.  He attended Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and earned a Master of Arts degree from New York University in 1909.  Revel then met Rabbi Bernard Levinthal, one of the leading rabbis in America, who invited him to come to Philadelphia to serve as his secretary and assistant. 

While in Philadelphia, Revel briefly attended law school but realized that wasn’t what he wanted to do.  He went on to earn a doctorate of philosophy from Dropsie College. 

US #2193 – Classic First Day Cover.

Revel got married in 1908 and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to join his wife’s family business in the oil industry.  He built a sizable fortune there and continued his study of the Torah. 

In 1915, Revel was invited to move back East to serve as the first president of Yeshiva College.  Under his leadership, the school (which had been created by merging two existing schools) combined a liberal arts program with Jewish studies and established a graduate school to train rabbinical leaders.

US #2193 – Fleetwood Plate Block First Day Cover.

Revel was well respected among his students.  In addition to his duties, he continued his own studies.  He was largely concerned with finding ways to continue traditional observances in the modern world.  He also wanted to establish a growing educational system that helped his students feel accepted in the world.  To honor Revel’s role in the school’s history, their graduate school was named after him.

Outside of the school, Revel was also a member of the Union Orthodox Rabbis and was appointed its honorary president.  He published articles in several Hebrew periodicals and was an associate editor of Otzar Yisrael, ad Hebrew Encyclopedia.  He also became the first vice president of the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1935.  Revel died on December 2, 1940, in New York.

US #2193 – Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

About the Bernard Revel Stamp…

If you look closely at Dr. Revel’s beard you may be able to see this stamp’s secret mark – the Star of David.  Placed there by the engraver, this practice is prohibited by the US Postal Service.

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  1. The last tidbit, about the stamp’s secret mark, caught my eye. How is that prohibited by the USPS? Is it because they didn’t authorize it before the printing of the stamp? Because the mark is a religious symbol? Does anyone know? I rather enjoy looking for the secret marks that the USPS has in many of it’s stamps but the article isn’t clear about what is prohibited on the particular one.

  2. Was the Bernard Rebel stamp printed in 1992 (as stated when clicked on this stamp) or 1986 as part of the Great American series???? Also all the FDC’s say “1992” when clicked on them. Love these articles though…I read them every day. Keep them coming!

  3. I don’t get it. The FDC’s are postmarked Sep 23, 1986. Why does Mystic report the stamp being issued in 1992? Please get your facts straight Mystic.

      1. The Great American series is a fascinating series and the Revel stamp is just part of the story. There are varieties of gum, tagging, color and perforations. I recall when the Star of David was discovered on the Revel stamp, and it seemed that shortly thereafter the $1.00 Johns Hopkins stamp was issued. This stamp stayed around much longer and thus had several varieties, especially in the shade of dark blue. The first day issue date must have been the 1986 date.

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