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


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


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


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


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


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

Pioneer years


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


First doctoral degree conferred.


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


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.


One-Year Program for overseas students established.


Dedication of Givat Ram campus.


Ein Kerem medical campus dedicated.


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


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

The new university


Academic activity resumed on Mount Scopus.


Opening of the Institute for Advanced Studies.


Opening of the Korest School of Veterinary Medicine.


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


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


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


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


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.


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


HU Professor Roger Kornberg wins Nobel prize in chemistry.


Opening of the student village.


Barbra Streisand visits HU -awarded and honorary doctorate.


President Shimon Peres awarded an honorary doctorate.


Opening of the Mandel Centre for Humanities.

Opening of the Nanotech and 3D printing centre.


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).