- Guggenheim Fellow (1969)
Fischel was born in Bonn, Germany, in 1913. He was the son of Anna (nee Suessengut) and Adolf Fischel.
After he completed secondary school in Bonn, Fischel studied philosophy at the University of Berlin, and Judaica at the Hochschule fur die Wissenschaft des Judentums, a liberal rabbinical seminary in Berlin. After having been detained for several months at a Nazi concentration camp in 1939, he was ordained a rabbi.
In 1941, he came to Canada, where he initially lived in a holding camp, and served as rabbi for other refugees from Germany. He continued his studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and earned a PhD in 1945. For the next half century, he held distinguished rabbinical and academic positions in Canada and in the United States, including professorships at Brandeis University and at Indiana University. Fischel joined the faculty of Indiana University in 1961.
He published many books and articles exploring the relationship between Jewish literature and the Hellenistic world, and was a pioneer in this line of research. Among extensive academic honors and offices, he served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature in Canada, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1969.