Hebrew University jubilee

  • Issue: Januari 1975
  • Designer: A. Kalderon
  • Stamp size: 61.6 x 26.5 mm
  • Plate no.: 434
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Photolithography

The official opening ceremony of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was held on Mount Scopus on April 1, 1925. Among those present were Jewish leaders from the Yishuv and the Diaspora, headed by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, while the guest of honour was the veteran English statesman Lord Arthur James Balfour. But the history of the University dates back many years prior to this ceremony. In 1882, Professor Hermann Zvi Schapira, a mathematician at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, Zionist leader and father of the idea of the Jewish National Fund, propounded his theories concerning th5 need to establish a Jewish institution of higher learning in Eretz Israel which should be a centre of "Torah, wisdom and work". His ideas were subsequently discussed by the Zionist Congress in Basle some fifteen years later.

In 1902, Weizmann, together with Martin Buber and Berthold Feiwel, published a pamphlet entitled Eine Juedische Hoch-schule, which presented a detailed plan for such an institution to serve the needs of Jewish youth. Their proposals received support from the Zionist leadership and in 1913, the 11th Zionist Congress resolved to set up a committee to work on the establishment of a Hebrew university in Jerusalem.

Subsequently, Dr. Arthur Ruppin was charged with the task of negotiating the purchase of a plot of land to accommodate the campus, and in 1918 Weizmann laid the University's foundation stone on Mount Scopus. The event took place only some few months after the Balfour Declaration, and World War 1 was not yet over, indeed the front was only some few miles distant from Jerusalem.

Seven years of intensive work separated the cornerstone laying from the opening of the University in 1925 when thousands of people from the Yishuv and from Jewish communities abroad gathered together on Mount Scopus, all of them deeply conscious of participating in a historic event that would have a key place in the future of the Jewish people.

Mount Scopus was the site on which the Roman legions had encamped as they prepared to lay siege to Jerusalem in the battle that was to spell the fall of the Temple. To its east stretches- the Judean Desert, the Jordan valley and the Dead Sea, the area through which the Children of Israel first entered the Promised Land. The site on which the University was founded, and its foundation, together symbolize, on the one hand, the generations of persecution suffered through the ages by the Jewish people and, on the other, that people's firm resolve to establish here. in this land, a homeland for itself, a centre serving not merely as a refuge but, above all, as a focus for spiritual and cultural creativity and renaissance, in fulfilment of its millennia-old vision.

The University's beginnings were modest: at its inauguration it was composed of only three institutes: the Institute of Jewish Studies, which in fact started its work some four months earlier, the Institute of Chemistry, and the Institute of Micro-biology. A year later, another, the Institute for Palestine Natural History, was added, as was the Department of Hygiene. All were research institutes which did not, as yet, engage in teaching. A library, formerly in the charge of the Zionist Organization, was transferred to. the University and became known as The Jewish National and University Library, its purpose being to serve the research and teaching needs of the University. Progress, while still gradual, became more rapid; a teaching programme was inaugurated, and, in 1931, six years after the opening, the University awarded its first degrees, the Master of Arts, to thirteen graduates of the Faculty of Humanities. The first Ph.D. degrees were awarded in 1936.

By 1947, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem had grown to the stature of a large and well established research and teaching institution, responsible for further education in the Yishuv, a centre of culture for Diaspora Jewry - particularly in Jewish studies - and a University which was already winning international repute for the quality of its work. It comprised the Faculties of Humanities and Science, the Pre-Faculty of Medicine, the School of Agriculture (located in Rehovot), a Department of Education, the Jewish National and University Library, a University Press, and an Adult Education Centre. Student enrolment topped 1,000 and there were some 200 members of faculty.

The War of Independence saw Mount Scopus cut off from western Jerusalem. The University was forced into exile. Innumerable and seemingly insuperable difficulties lay in the way of its resuming its programmes - there were no buildings or laboratories, no scientific equipment, no books. And yet it had to meet the needs of e newly independent, developing nation. It was this need which virtually forced the University into a period of growth and intellectual expansion naore rapid than anything it had ever experienced in the past. For some years, the University operated in a number of rented buildings, widely scattered around Jerusalem, making do with insufficient equipment and always regarding the situation as temporary - in the expectation of an early return to Mount Scopus. When it finally became obvious that there was no end in sight to this "temporary" state of affairs, it was decided to acquire new premises on Givat Ram, and building began there in 1953. This new campus, and the Medical Centre in Em Karem, begun at approximately the same time, were both designed to be far bigger than the University's original home on Mount Scopus. Building proceeded rapidly, side by side with ever increasing academic expansion. And yet, even at this time, the University turned its attention outwards, setting up branches in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba and aiding these institutions towards ultimate independence.

By the end of 1967, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem comprised the Faculties of Humanities, Social Sciences, Law, Science, Agriculture, Medicine, and Dental Medicine and the Schools of Education, Social Work, and the Graduate Library School. Its student enrolment exceeded 12,500.

Givat Ram and the Medical Centre in Em Karem were never, however, seen as substitutes for Mount Scopus. This remained the heart of the University.

The hope, the belief, that the University would one day return to Mount Scopus, was never for a moment abandoned.

On June 9, 1967, that hope was fulfilled. The University's long exile was over. It returned home and immediately began to restore and expand the Mount Scopus campus.

Today, the University functions on four campuses: Givat Ram, Mount Scopus, the Medical Centre at Em Karem, and Rehovot (home of the Faculty of Agriculture). It has a student enrolment of 1 8,000 registered for the Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Degrees in its seven Faculties and eight Schools: The Faculties of Humanities, Science, Social Sciences, Law, Agriculture, Medicine and Dental Medicine; the Schools of Overseas Students, Applied Science and Technology, Education, Pharmacy, Social Work, Business Administration, Nutritional and Domestic Science, Graduate Library School, and the Centre for Pre-Academic Studies.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is headed by: Mr. Avraham Harman, President; Prof. M. Rabin, Rector; Prof. E.D. Bergmann, Mr. B. Cherrick, Prof. N. Goldblum and Prof. A. Kaynan, Vice-Presidents; and Mr. S. Rothberg (U.S.A.) Chairman of the Board of Governors.

top top 

Hebrew University jubilee