Rabbi Aaron Reichel ’67

Rabbi Aaron Reichel ’67

picture2Before I even entered Yeshiva College, let alone law school, I argued my first “case” in MTA, of YUHS, by submitting a brief together with a petition of my classmates endorsing it. We had been waiting for our teacher to arrive, a bit late (it was Rabbi Dr. Tendler, for the record, for whom it was always worth waiting!) and the class was getting a bit rowdy, to put it mildly. (The rowdiness was NOT mild, to be sure.) Mr. Abrams, the school administrator, walked in and announced he was suspending the whole class. I did not want to have a suspension on my record, especially considering that I had been perfectly quiet the whole time, so I immediately wrote a brief for submission to Mr. Abrams, and got it signed by most of the members of the class. To my amazement, Mr. Abrams convened an “assembly” just for our class in the cavernous Lamport Auditorium, and read my petition in which I pointed out the injustice of collective punishment against the whole class, when approximately one third of us were quiet and well behaved; one third of us were speaking to each other in moderate tones, and only about one-third of the class was rowdy enough to make it sound like the whole room was noisy. Mr. Abrams read this to us aloud, referring to my numbers as if they were certified precise statistics, and then ruled that in order not to unfairly condemn the innocent, he was revoking the suspension for the entire class, and we had to return to our classroom and listen to Rabbi Dr. Tendler’s lecture for the day as on any other day. I don’t recall getting any congratulations for my victory on behalf of the class, but I do remember even which classmate specifically complained to me for having deprived him of a day off!

Another unforgettable set of memories I will always cherish began with my having been appointed to be the editor-in-chief of the Compact, 1966-1967, the school’s literary magazine, and promptly arranging for Isaac Herschkopf (now known as Dr. Ike) to be the co-editor-in-chief in appreciation of his role in the process, having no idea at the time that he was destined to become the person I consider to be the best and most moving writer of the class, and of the whole school; he was already the wittiest. An excerpt of his serialized memoirs appears elsewhere in this web site. When we were filling out our staff, one of our friends said he was related to the dentist of the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Herman Wouk, and could guarantee us an unpublished article for our magazine in exchange for a position on the staff. We said that if he could come through on this pledge, we would award him the prestigious title of co-Copy Editor of the Magazine. Sure enough, he came through with a greeting from Mr. Wouk, which we accepted as fulfillment of the deal. We also compiled a detailed student poll, which took a huge amount of time tabulating before the advent of computers.

Incidentally, Mr. Rudy Bernstein was our official faculty adviser, to whom we had dutifully shown all the submissions. He accepted most, and rejected a few. I happened to like one that he rejected, and included it in the final product. Sure enough, Mr. Bernstein recalled having rejected the article, and asked us about it, to which I replied, as respectfully as I could, that I realized he was our faculty adviser, and we followed most of his advice, but since he was only our advisor and not our teacher or dictator in this role, I felt we were also free to reject his advice when we saw fit to do so! Fortunately for us, he did not take this matter any further!

Ike and I personally distributed our magnum opus to each social studies class in the school, bringing enough copies into each classroom, along with a whimsical announcement that captured the attention of every student but also disrupted each class in the process. When we came into one of these classes for the 4th or 5th time, one teacher greeted us with the words, “here are these two clowns again.” I was never prouder to be referred to as a clown; actually, I probably never again was referred to as a clown, but it was a great feeling to personally bring a bit of joy and levity into each class, in addition to our serious literary magazine.

Submitted by Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq., ’67 YUHS-MTA, ’71 YC, ’74 BRGS, ’75 RIETS

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