Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1 -- The Anniversary of Hebrew University's Opening in 1925.
Republishing an Earlier Posting

Laying the Hebrew University foundation stone, 1918
The establishment of the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus was clearly a momentous event in the minds of Zionist leaders who had dreamt of such a Jewish university since the 1880s.  It was also important to the American Colony Photo Department whose collection is housed today at the Library of Congress. Their photographers shot pictures of many of the university's events.

 [Many of the photographs and negatives of the American Colony collection were deteriorating when the Library digitalized them, and the images were preserved.  Some of the photographs presented here show the deterioration and decay.] 

The first photograph commemorates the laying of the foundation stone of the Hebrew University on July 24, 1918, just eight months after British forces captured Jerusalem in a major and bloody campaign.
Churchill and rabbis
On March 28, 1921, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill visited Jerusalem and planted a tree at the Mt Scopus location of the future university.  Standing behind him are the Sephardi Chief Rabbi Jacob Meir and the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook.  Click here to see a previous posting on Churchill's visit to Jerusalem.   

Balfour addressing the crowd with
 the Judean Desert behind him
 On April 1, 1925 a ceremony was held on Mt. Scopus to announce the official opening of the university. Lord Balfour and Chaim Weizmann, a Zionist leader who would later become Israel's first president, were among the leaders to speak at the gathering.  Lord Balfour, who, serving as British Foreign Secretary, drafted the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917.  The document declared, "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

In the picture (right) Balfour is speaking, Weizmann is behind him on the right and the chief rabbis are behind him on the left.. Another historic picture of the event can be found here.  The speaker is British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel.

University Opening, from left to right: Lord Balfour
 at the podium, next to him British High Commissioner
Herbert Samuel, University Chancellor Judah Magnes,
and Chaim Weizman
Foreign delegates to the university
opening, including Balfour and Samuel

Preparing the Hebew University
amphitheater for the opening, 1925

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