Origins of The Lions’ Den
Henry (“Hymie” or “Chaim”) Mandel graduated from Talmudical Academy in 1936 when he was only fifteen. He often recounted that Dr. Bernard Revel, the founder of Talmudical Academy High School and Yeshiva College, was playfully known as “Rocter Devil” among the yeshiva boys. He recalled that Dr. Revel was asked how it was possible that there would be enough rabbinical positions for all the graduates of Talmudical Academy and Yeshiva College. Dr. Revel responded that not all of his students would become rabbis, but they would be knowledgeable enough to appreciate a real rabbi. Mornings were spent in chavrutah learning of Talmud, and after lunch was shiur (in Yiddish). General studies began at three PM and went to seven PM. Originally Dr. Revel had planned to build a larger campus, and had purchased the land opposite what is now Zysman Hall for that purpose. Due to the Great Depression, this plan had to be abandoned, and the day the land was sold the yeshiva boys could hear crying in the President’s office. The reason, he used to recount, why the ceiling of MTA’s basement is so low is because it was designed to be a swimming pool, before out of necessity it became a basketball court. The unusual dimensions of the court gave Talmudical Academy and Yeshiva College a distinct home court advantage, as opposing teams struggled to adjust the arc of their shots. One of the most exciting moments during his years at TA was when the Yeshiva College team almost beat one of the best teams in the country, Long Island University, because LIU’s shots kept hitting the ceiling!
As recounted to his grandson Sammy Flaks ’02, son of Michael Flaks ’74, and brother of Keith Flaks ’05.