Israeli history photo of the week: Hebrew U. Opening 1925

Jpost feature: A Library of Congress collection of photographs that document Israel before creation of state.

April 5, 2012 13:33
1 minute read.
University opening

University opening. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)

The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.

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.

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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. Attending the ceremony was Lord Author James Balfour, who, serving as British Foreign Secretary, drafted the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917.  The document declared, "His Majesty's government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

On March 28, 1921, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill visited Jerusalem and planted a tree at the Mt Scopus location of the future university. 

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.

More photos can be viewed at

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