History of the Hebrew University

The official history of the Hebrew University begins at its opening on Mount Scopus by Lord Balfour on 1st April 1925.

However, the foundations were laid much earlier. Before the first stone of the University was even laid (in 1918, by Chaim Weizmann) some of the great visionaries of our time foresaw the creation of a State of Israel and planned for the establishment for a centre of academic excellence.

A group of those visionaries became the University’s first Board of Governors. It included Chaim Weizmann, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber, Chaim Nachman Bialik, Cyrus Adler, Yehuda Magnes, Ahad Ha’am and Rabbi Avraham Kook.

Their vision was to create the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: an internationally respected academic institution which would serve as Israel’s leading educational establishment and provide the Jewish people with the cultural, spiritual and intellectual resource of their heritage and facilitate the training of new generations of scientists, philosophers, statesmen, teachers, agriculturalists and business entrepreneurs for the developing needs of a new nation.

Visions and visionaries

1882

Professor Herman Zvi Shapira proposed the establishment of a university for the Jewish people.

1913

11th Zionist Congress passes a motion in favour of the establishment of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

1918

Foundation stones laid on Mount Scopus in the presence of Chaim Weizmann, General Allenby and Jewish leaders.

1923

Albert Einstein gives inaugural scientific lecture during his only visit to Palestine; also edits the University’s first scientific publication. Institute of Chemistry established.

1925

Gala opening of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Einstein Institute of Mathematics established.

Pioneer years

1935

HU issues certificates enabling young European Jewish refugees to enter the country and study in Jerusalem. Faculty of Science established. Chaim Weizmann appointed Dean.

1936

First doctoral degree conferred.

1948

On 13 April, 77 faculty and staff members of the University and Hadassah Hospital are killed when a convoy to Mount Scopus is attacked. In August, the provisional Israeli government recognises the importance of the Hebrew University “as a central scientific institution of the State of Israel” and its duty “to continue its activities and develop them.” The Mount Scopus campus is cut off from West Jerusalem.

Across the city

1949

University relocates to makeshift premises throughout Jerusalem.

Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Faculty of Law and Adult Education Centre established.

First Summer Institute for overseas students held.

1955

One-Year Program for overseas students established.

1958

Dedication of Givat Ram campus.

1960

Ein Kerem medical campus dedicated.

1964

Yissum Research Development Company established to patent University research findings and promote University partnerships with industry.

1967

Jerusalem unified, access to Mount Scopus restored. Renovation of Mount Scopus campus begins.

The new university

1969

Academic activity resumed on Mount Scopus.

1975

Opening of the Institute for Advanced Studies.

1985

Opening of the Korest School of Veterinary Medicine.

1998

Rothberg International School (formerly the Overseas School) moves to the Boyar Building.

1999

Dedication of the Selim and Rachel Benin School of Engineering and Computer Science.

2002

Nobel prize in economics awarded to HU alumnus Professor Daniel Kahneman.

2003

Inauguration of the Edmond J. Safra Campus at Givat Ram.

2004

HU alumni Professor Avram Hershko and Professor Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion win Nobel prize in chemistry. Nobel prize in physics awarded to HU alumnus Professor David J. Gross.

2005

Completion of the five Ginges Computer Centres. Nobel prize in economics awarded to HU Professor Robert J. Aumann.

2006

HU Professor Roger Kornberg wins Nobel prize in chemistry.

2007

Opening of the student village.

2013

Barbra Streisand visits HU -awarded and honorary doctorate.

2014

President Shimon Peres awarded an honorary doctorate.

2015

Opening of the Mandel Centre for Humanities.

Opening of the Nanotech and 3D printing centre.

2017

Opening of the Safra Centre for Brain Sciences.

Mobileye, vehicle collision avoidance technology company, acquired by Intel for over $15bn (Mobile was developed at the Hebrew University).