The Opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem


The Hebrew University, 1925 (PHG\1414354)
Zvi Hermann Schapira was the first to suggest the idea of establishing a Hebrew University and raised the issue at the First Zionist Congress in 1897. Years later, discussions were held in various Zionist institutions about the character of the university and the implementation of the idea.The actual decision to open a university in Jerusalem, in which Hebrew would be the primary language, was taken at the 11th Zionist Congress. The WZO signed an agreement in 1914 with a protestant lawyer named John Gray-Hill, who was pro-Zionist, to buy his mansion on Mount Scopus. The land was designated for the university building.
The First World War put the plans for the University on hold. After the War ended in 1918, and permission from the British authority was given, a cornerstone ceremony for the university building was held. Seven years afterwards, on April 1st 1925, the opening ceremony was conducted. The ceremony was very impressive and many respected figures made speeches: Lord Balfour, Chaim Weizmann, Rabbi Kook, Sir Herbert Samuel and Hayim Nahman Bialik. Thousands of guests participated at the ceremony, including representatives of universities from around the world.