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Balfour on Mount Scopus.

When my brother and I were children in the 1920s there hung in our room two portraits of famous men, one with beard, one without. The latter was Abraham Lincoln -- the 1919 lithograph by Boardman Robinson, who portrayed him from photographs before the 1860 election. The other was Theodor Herzl, the famous etching by Hermann Struck, and it was signed by both men.(1)

In school Henry and I could readily identify Lincoln -- we read about him in books, and his profile was on the penny, a coin of value then (one bought a penny postcard, two a newspaper, five a large ice cream cone, ten everything in the 5&10). And did not Father tell us that it was in the home of Victor Brenner, engraver of the Lincoln penny, that he and Mother had first been introduced? Concerning the man with the beard we were vague. In time both portraits vanished. Although they were not Zionists, I recall hearing that my parents had donated the Herzl to a Zionist organization. As for the Lincoln, it was probably sold for a few dollars -- the Depression meant that every dollar was desperately needed.

Another historic picture was in Father's study. It showed a gray-haired man in red robes extending an arm while delivering a speech to a vast audience on a hillside. This was the inauguration of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in 1925 (when I was three), and the speaker was Arthur Balfour (1848-1930), signer of the Declaration eight years before when he was foreign secretary in the British government. It had fallen to him to play a central formal role in both historic events, inspired by his warm endorsement of the cause. This picture, by the artist Leopold Pilichowski, disappeared too, and in recent years I began wishing I had it still.(2) Happily, an officer of the Hebrew University made it possible for me to acquire a large photographic reproduction of the original painting, now in the Sherman Administration building on Mount Scopus, so that, handsomely framed and placed in a commanding spot, it enriches my home once again.

The 70th anniversary of the inauguration was marked in Israel with fitting observance, and perhaps the inauguration might be recalled here too. For the Hebrew University-[GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] arose from the same Zionist aspirations as led to the rebirth of Israel in its ancient land, and in turn has richly contributed to the amazing fulfillment of what Herzl could only speculate on in his Altneuland. Moreover the fortunes of Israel and its university in Jerusalem will surely continue closely linked. In a way the Pilichowski painting symbolizes that idealism, that past, that future.

The solemn exercise of April 1, 1925, marked the first great milestone in realizing a dream born, said Chaim Weizmann, "almost simultaneously with the Zionist movement."(3) Professor Hermann Schapira at Heidelberg visualized a Jerusalem university and proposed it at the first Zionist Congress in Basle, 1897.(4) Weizmann was stirred by the vision as a young student in Berlin, and nurtured it during his years of study and teaching chemistry in Geneva. In 1901 at the fourth Zionist Congress, in Basle, he promoted the university idea, and in 1902 published a pamphlet Die Judische hochschule, coauthored with Martin Buber and Berthold Feivel. The Zionist Congress of 1913 in Vienna decided in principle on founding a Hebrew University in Palestine, and appointed a commission to formulate plans; Weizmann headed it, and among its members was Judah Magnes,(5) with whom he had earlier formed a friendship. Weizmann spurred the interest and involvement of others -- Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Dr. Paul Ehrlich, Buber, Achad Ha-am, and potential faculty members. Meanwhile in 1907 he had seen a property on Mount Scopus on which he "set longing eyes."(6) Some years later Isaac Goldberg, a Russian Zionist, put up the funds to buy it from the English lawyer Sir John Grey-Hill and his wife. Thus did the nascent university begin to take shape in purpose and physical plant.

Weizmann came to Palestine in 1918 heading the Zionist Commission, and on July 24 presided over the laying of twelve symbolic foundation stones on Mount Scopus. Not many appreciate the boldness -- the chutzpa -- of that act today. The War was still on, Lord Allenby reminded the Zionist that afternoon.

We were then in a precarious position in every way. Mount Ephraim, Samaria, Carmel, were all in the hands of the enemy, and there was no immediate prospect of a further advance. Dr. Weizmann, however, made light of this. He busied himself in the furtherance of Zionist plans, and within the hearing of gunshot he laid the foundation of the University.... Here was a man who believed and his faith helped me in my will to do my job. It was an act of faith in Palestine.(7)

In his remarks at the stone-laying Weizmann expressed that faith. "Here out of the misery and desolation of war, is being created the firm germ of a new life. In this university we have gone beyond restoration: we are creating, during, the war something which is to serve as a symbol of a better future. In the university the wandering soul of the jew will reach its haven."(8) Later he recalled, "The ceremony did not last longer than an hour. When it was over we sang Hatikvah and God Save the King. But no one seemed anxious to leave, and we stood silent, with bowed heads, round the little row of stones, while the twilight deepened into night."(9)

In 1921 Weizmann visited the United States with Albert Einstein and a number of prominent Zionists to raise funds for Keren Hayesod -- the Palestine Foundation Fund -- and generate support for the University. Einstein became a member of the board of governors of the University, and so remained the rest of his life. The next year the Grey-Hill House was rebuilt to house the University's first institutes -- microbiology and biochemistry, and Einstein delivered the opening lecture -- on his theory of relativity. He spoke his first sentences in Hebrew, then with an apology switched to French. He later donated to the University the manuscripts of his relativity theory.(10)

In 1924 Rabbi Magnes founded the Institute of Jewish Studies, which was soon merged into the general structure of the University. A grant from the David Wolffson Foundation made possible the building of a worthy home on Mount Scopus for the National and University Library, then in its early stages of development. Felix and Frieda Schiff Warburg visited Palestine, and were inspired by Magnes' "vision of the University as it would rise from the ridge of scopus ... they were convinced that Judaism, studied in that superb scene, could be again a fountain of living waters. They gave him an endowment of half a million dollars for the Institute of Jewish Studies."(11) Buoyed by this gift, Magnes toured Europe to interview potential professors and develop further support. "He met Weizmann in London and they arranged to divide the kingdom. Magnes should take the University in his charge, Weizmann the National Home."(12) Nevertheless Weizmann exercised his royal prerogatives in Magnes' domain too.

By the spring of 1925 it seemed to him that "we could look at `our University' and feel there really was enough of it to justify a formal `opening ceremony.'"(13) No students were yet enrolled, but research specialists were at work, and the framework of initial institutes or colleges was set. So invitations were sent for an inaugural exercise at which Earl Balfour would be the honored chief speaker -- he had been knighted and elevated to the peerage three years before, and Weizmann was delighted that he had agreed to participate. Jews everywhere were stirred by the coming dedication; in New York a large special issue of The New Palestine was devoted to it by the American Zionist Organization.(14)

Despite personal reservations, Judah Magnes cooperated in planning for the ceremonial, and looked for an appropriate site, recounts his biographer and friend. "Where to place a great assembly, when the largest room in the University house could accommodate barely two hundred? It must be an open-air dedication. He discovered, on a sheer hillside within the grounds, a natural theatre -- with the noblest prospect in Palestine, perhaps in the world, overlooking the Wilderness of Judea, the Jordan Valley, the Mountains of Moab. Young men and women fashioned with their own hands rough seating."(15) What of the platform or stage for speakers and other dignitaries? Weizmann recalls:

The snag was that to face the audience in this amphitheater, the platform had to be on a bridge over the wadi itself. The gorge was deep, sheer and rocky; the bridge was an improvised wooden affair which inspired -- in me at least -- little confidence. I was told that it had been repeatedly tested, but my blood ran cold at the thought that something might give way at the crucial moment. The builders were convinced that the platform could safely bear 200 or 250 people. However, 200 of our sturdiest young chalutzim volunteered to dance an energetic hora on the contraption. Nothing happened except a great deal of noise, and I felt a little easier. Minute inspection of the platform failed to reveal any damage....(16)

So the stage was set for the his toric event Leopold Pilichowski was to capture on canvas.

Half an hour before the scheduled start of exercises on Wednesday, April 1, Weizmann and other speakers donned academic robes in the Grey-Hill House, then proceeded to the platform. Balfour in his robes as chancellor of both Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities, and his party approached from the opposite side, coming from Government House, and a thunderous ovation greeted him. What followed proved to be "a great occasion in the memory of all who took part in it, the most moving and impressive ceremony during the thirty years of the Mandate.... The audience, looking outward, seemed to witness the creation of the earth, and to feel that they were part of a new work of creation."(17) Eighteen-and-a-half centuries earlier, on the Mediterranean shore, there had been an inception of what was destined to become a great academy. The Pharisee and Tanna Yohannan Ben Zakkai sought a favor from Emperor Vespasian, who condescendingly let him establish his little school at Jabneh, and there he assembled fellow rabbanim and students into what became the spiritual center of Judaism and its sustaining pillar after both Temple and state were shattered. Perhaps the young academy on Mount Scopus might prove a worthy successor in a hopeful new era with the National Home at last redeemed on its sacred soil.

The assemblage of dignitaries was unprecedented, brilliant, and to this day unmatched. Many are depicted by Pilichowski in recognizable portrait, and a keyed outline facsimile is available identifying them. To study this painting is to glimpse the sweep of Zionist history, the breadth of Jewish religion, intellect, and culture. Mentioning only those at the front of the stage (along the green-covered table behind Balfour), Judah Magnes is at the extreme left, and next is the German Zionist, Arthur Ruppin.(18) Immediately to Balfour's left is the poet Nachman Bialik, and then are seen Achad Ha-am,(19) Chief Palestine Sephardi Rabbi Yaakov Meir, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Avraham Kook, Field Marshal Viscount Allenby, High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel, and Chaim Weizmann. To the right of the constable in costume is Chief Rabbi of the British Empire Joseph Hertz, and on his left are Dr. Israel Levy-grand Rabin de France, Nachum Sokolow- chairman of the Zionist Executive who later succeeded Weizmann as president of the WZO, and Menachem Ussishkin -- chairman of Keren Kayemet. The list of notables goes on -- distinguished Jews and Gentiles both, some on the platform, others seated or standing along with the thousands in the audience, perhaps the largest gathering in the Holy Land since the Second Temple stood.(20)

Norman Bentwich viewed the huge concourse from his place just behind Achad Ha-am, and later wrote, "The crowd in the natural open-air theater on the grounds, as far as eye could see, included Jews from every part of the Dispersion, and a few Arabs of Palestine."(21) In the former category, as it happens, was a granduncle of this writer. Native of Lidvinova -- a shtetl near Kovno, 1868 immigrant to these shores, and by now comfortable and prosperous in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, many children and grandchildren, he later conveyed the drama in a speech to the Zionist chapter back home.(22) Among more official first-hand reports was that of the correspondent for The Times of London, who was hardly less enthusiastic, and marveled over the natural acoustics (there were no microphones, loudspeakers, and so on, those days). "Everyone heard every word of the speakers, just as if they had been in a room instead of in the open air on a mountainside."(23) For impressions of a noted Jewish author one can turn to Marvin Lowenthal, then writing from abroad for The Menorah Journal:

Above me circled a natural amphitheater ringed with stone benches and black

from bowl to rim with the variegated Jewish nation. Below me opened an

abyss -- ten miles precipitous slide of rock and sand to the ribbon of Jordan

and the blue

mirror of the Dead Sea, as a stone falls 4000 feet below me. Moab gleamed in

cliffs of purple and gold thirty miles away. I have seen open-air

theaters -- Berkeley with its trees, Point Loma with its ravine tumbling to

the sea, Pompeii

with Vesuvius and the Bay; but none furnished a back-drop comparable with

this mountain-girded chasm. Naturally. Was not this God's own country?(24)

There was a benediction, then National Anthems, then Psalms rendered by a choir. Rabbi Kook blessed King George, High Commissioner Samuel and Lord Balfour, then prayed for the success of the University. Dr. Weizmann introduced Balfour. He rose, "and with him," reported The Times, "the whole assembly -- a most remarkable sight. He was cheered so loudly that it was some time before he could speak." The noble Scot had first entered Parliament in 1874 when Benjamin Disraeli was prime minister. He had reached the pinnacle himself and served as prime minister (in fact at the time Herzl had sought from Britain approval for Jewish settlement in Cyprus, or Wadi el Arish in the Sinai, or Uganda); he had held other high office and knew the acclaim of his fellows in the House of Commons and House of Lords. On May 5, 1917, he had addressed Congress in Washington to prolonged applause and cheers, and later in New York's Carnegie Hall at a benefit for the British Red Cross heard the crowd roar its approval. Yet Mount Scopus may have surpassed all this. What it meant to him is hinted by his niece and biographer, Lady Blanche Dugdale:

When Balfour rose to speak it seemed as if the cheering of the multitude


never cease. He was very much moved. And indeed it has seldom fallen to the

lot of any statesman to see within his own lifetime the fruits of a policy so


in faith in the qualities of an untried nation as Balfour's Zionism had been.


DAVID LYON HURWITZ retired from a career of research and writing on business subjects and is completing an index to the contents of The Menorah Journal, which was edited for some forty-six years starting in 1915 by his father, the late Henry Hurwitz, His essay, "Churchill and Palestine," appeared in the Winter 1995 issue.

Hebrew University (barred to no one, whatever his race or religion) seemed

about to fulfill all his hopes for a revival and a concentration of Jewish


He rejoiced frankly in his own share in the political settlement of Palestine

which had made its foundation possible. He knew that when the Jews cheered

him there was deep feeling beneath, the feeling of a homeless people, who for

the first time in two thousand years were welcoming an honoured guest in


own National Home.(25)

This emotional response impressed the Times reporter, who observed that Balfour "spoke throughout without notes, but had to pause from time to time owing to the applause, and was again enthusiastically cheered when he finished."(26)

Today, seventy years later, Balfour's speech lies forgotten and unread, which is a pity inasmuch as it is an historic document, provocative still, and deeply moving. It comes from the heart of this righteous Gentile who fervently and philosophically befriended the Jews, admired them, and forthrightly declared himself a Zionist. The official transcript of the address is to be found in the rare 1928 volume, accessible in some reference libraries: The Earl of Balfour, Speeches on Zionism, edited by Israel Cohen.[27] In his foreword Herbert Samuel wrote It is perhaps in his speech at the inauguration of the Hebrew University at Jerusalem that Lord Balfour's faith finds the fullest and most powerful expression."

Noteworthy is the way he identifies himself with the bold endeavor, using "we" instead of "you" when declaring

... we are now engaged in adapting Western methods and a Western form of

university to an Asiatic site and to an education which is to be carried

on in an

Eastern language. That is a new experiment. It has never been tried before

under any circumstances parallel at all to those in which I speak to you.


and gentlemen, unless I have ... profoundly mistaken the genius of the


people, the experiment is predestined to an inevitable success. Not only

men of

Jewish birth, but others who share the common civilisation of the world,


have reason to congratulate themselves.

Striking too is Balfour's wonder over the way the ancient, sacred Hebrew tongue had proved capable of adaptation for modem use in science and other studies. "There is a great difference between Isaiah and micro-biology," he recognizes, and asks: "Is the poetry and imagery of the language of Isaiah fitted to deal with all the laboratory work that is going to render this spot illustrious?" He expresses confidence that indeed "Hebrew has been placed upon lines of development which make it as flexible, as rich, and as capable of adaptation to every new use, to every growth in the realm of knowledge" as any great contemporary language. In fact, commented Sir Herbert later in his foreword, the lexicon of the Holy Scriptures and modem science may be different, but these two great areas of human concern are not incompatible. They are complementary to one another. Mankind needs both.... The discoveries of science are one long psalm to the Divine Greatness. The University at Jerusalem is sister to the Temple." And "Whatever the University is, whatever it undertakes to do," insisted Earl Balfour, "shall be done on the highest level and shall mark out the University of Jerusalem as being on the very loftiest plane of human intellectual endeavour."

Were he to return today he would of course be impressed by the sheer size and extent of physical plant, and probably -- what is more important -- by the quality of scholarship, teaching, and research in the many components on four campuses.(28) On Mount Scopus itself -- Har haTsofim -- are now gathered the faculties of humanities (perhaps the most important center for Jewish studies anywhere), social sciences and law, together with the Buber Institute for continuing education and the Rothberg School for overseas students, departments of Middle Eastern and Arabic studies,(29) and so on. Along with the original Hadassah hospital now rebuilt and providing special medical facilities, and the neighboring Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, the University's buildings crown an acropolis of learning, healing, art, and civilized life.

When Balfour spoke in 1925 all this lay in the future. For Mount Scopus was, as he predicted, to flower in years to come and not, like Athens' Acropolis, shine only from a receding glorious past. Indeed the student, professor, or visitor now discovering the olympian campus at Mount Scopus, not to mention Givat Ram, may need an effort to imagine that day in April 1925 when, as Norman Bentwich observed with British understatement, "It was a very small University."(30) Weizmann was blunter. "In fact, we had not a real university; we had the germ of a university. It was like the Jewish National Home itself: small, but with great potentialities."(31) Marvin Lowenthal reported in his vivacious style, "A Swedish newspaper correspondent asks me, `Where is the University anyway?" and later suggested, "The truthfullest thing would have been to tell him: in the will of the Jewish people.... The University is still largely an idea, awaiting time and money to clothe it with reality.... But this spectacle of chaos slowly reaching form under the pressure of a driving will is typical of the new Palestine. If the problems and answers clustered about the University are grasped, a key is rendered to the whole question of a Jewish homeland...."(32)

Certainly hopes were high that happy afternoon seventy years ago, for the University and the Homeland both. After Balfour there were more speeches,(33) including those in Hebrew by Bialik, Rabbi Kook, and Rabbi Hertz. A chorus sang from the 19th Psalm, HaShamayim m'sap'rim kevod-El, and Sir Herbert closed the celebration with his parting address as high commissioner, declaring this to be the transcending moment of his five years, and moving the audience to share that exultation when he recited the Shehecheyanu. "And as the sun was descending in the west," he later remembered, "its rays lit up the peaks of Mount Pisgah."(34) In the evening a gala banquet was given by the board of governors of the University, with Nahum Sokolow presiding.

"The Arab will tell you, it is the will of Allah," wrote Marvin Lowenthal. "For weeks preceding the inauguration of the University Jerusalem panted for rain. Its cisterns were dry, and the waters of Solomon's Pools were distributed in pitifully scant rations. If it had rained on inauguration day, Araby -- if it be as hostile to the Jews as its leaders proclaim -- would have rejoiced, for there is no greater sign of Allah's displeasure than rain upon the hopes of men. But if the rain comes a day after, there is no greater sign of divine approval. And the day following the ceremony the windows of heaven opened and deluged Jerusalem and Mount Scopus with life and God's blessing."(35)

Balfour then toured Palestine, always gracious and responsive, with stamina remarkable for a man aged 77 on a strenuous visit. Preserved in the 1928 volume Speeches on Zionism are, in addition to his inaugural address, his brief extemporaneous remarks at Benjamina,(36) all the Haifa Technion, Nahalal, Balfouria,(37) Tiberias and Rosh Pinnah. the Times correspondent went along, and his dispatches the next few days gave British and other readers, mostly non-Jewish of course, in many cases their first glimpse of the way Jews were restoring long neglected, barren land to fruitfulness and building habitations in town, moshav, and kibbutz. From Tiberias he reported on April 7 (printed in next day's paper) that at Rosh Pinnah, "Lord Balfour was blessed in the synagogue, where -- an unusual occurrence in such a place -- an Arab Sheikh delivered an address, saying that he lived in perfect harmony with the Jews. After luncheon ... before the party left Rosh Pinnah three Algerians informed Lord Balfour that they were living very contentedly side by side with the colonists."(38)

Then came the visit to Balfouria:

... we looked down upon the Plain of Jezreel spread out before us with a

magnificent view of Mount Tabor and towards the further end Balfouria. This

time he was received by a cavalcade, of which a large proportion were Arabs

[on horseback] from Beisan, the Jordan Valley, even from the Transjordan....

Preceded by these cavaliers chanting an Arab song of welcome Lord Balfour

entered the main avenue, which is planted with fir trees. Halfway along

this he

was met by the Rabbi of Jaffa.... Standing under an awning symbolizing the

Tabernacle of old, and holding the 'Torah' or Scroll of the Law, he offered


and salt in the Oriental manner [sic] and uttered a blessing on King

George and

the visitor. Lord Balfour appeared to be much affected.(39)

But a few days later The Times published a picture during Balfour's aborted visit to the French Syrian Mandate, where he had proceeded simply as a tourist, with the intention of seeing Baalbec. The caption read "A CRITICAL MOMENT AT DAMASCUS -- THE Arab mob breaking through the cordon of gendarmes on the right bank of the Barada in an attempt to reach the Hotel Victoria. Reinforcements were rushed along the other side of the stream and succeeded in reaching the hotel in time to intercept the crowd."(40) The French had mishandled matters, failing to notify British and Palestinian authorities of trouble brewing, and overreacting at the critical point, all to Balfour's exasperation and disappointment. He had to be escorted quickly to Beirut to board ship for Alexandria.

By contrast, the photographs of the Palestinian visit in The Times are peaceful, encouraging, and often stirring. The inauguration ceremonies on April 1 are preserved in a number of these black-and-white photographs-indeed cameramen and their tripods can be spotted in Pilichowski's painting. That work of art, however, captures the drama, color, and animation of the scene in a way they simply could not.

Moreover the Pilichowski is not only a vivid record-it became a participant in Palestinian history. Fate decreed it was to share in tumultuous events that marked the birth throes and subsequent struggles of the revived Jewish National Home. The saga is one of peril, tragedy, heroism, ultimate redemption.

On November 29, 1947, the U.N. General Assembly voted to partition Palestine west of the Jordan into separate Jewish and Arab states, the latter including Judea and Samaria, with Jerusalem "internationalized." The Arabs rejected this, as they had rejected all earlier partition plans, and a reign of terror began for Mount Scopus, with its Hebrew University and its Rothschild-Hadassah Hospital, which had opened in 1939. Buses from the city had to negotiate the "Nashashibi bend" in the only access road, with the Sheikh Jarrah quarter above them, and go past the Antonious house of the former grand mufti; "Jewish busses, normally carrying several thousand passengers a day to and from Mount Scopus, had to run a gauntlet of rifle and machine-gun fire, hand grenades and bombs...."(41) The Route il bus windows were screened with steel netting; in December regular service had to be suspended, to be replaced by armored vehicles moving in convoys. The University and Hadassah courageously carried on while they could, but the Arabs were determined to neutralize Mount Scopus, and the parting British Administration appeared bent on chaos and anarchy.(42)

The Pilichowski painting of the April l, 1925, inauguration was taken from the wall in a University building and placed in safekeeping, then smuggled down in one of the convoys. Judah Magnes and Ikhud continued to appeal for reason and decency," wrote Bentwich.

The more hopeless the position, the greater was their insistence on

rallying the

moral forces. It was as though they believed because it was impossible....

Magnes kept a lingering but diminishing faith in the capacity of the British

Administration to be of help, till the fatal 13th of April [1948], when a


carrying doctors and nurses to the Hadassah Hospital and professors and

workers of the University to Scopus, was ambushed by Arab bands and for

hours left a helpless victim of savage onslaughts, while British forces were

stationed within a mile, and he and others vainly besought their aid. Among


seventy killed were ten of the University staff and Dr. Yassky,(43) Director of

Hadassah and a trusted friend and colleague."

The Hadassah hospital was evacuated, University research and classes were moved to makeshift quarters in the city.

In May 1948 came the War of Independence. King Abdullah's Arab Legion, commanded by British general Sir John Bagot Glubb ("Pasha"), demolished and occupied the ancient Jewish quarter in the old city of Jerusalem, which surrendered May 28; his tanks overran the Jewish settlements of the Etzion Bloc and swept over Judea and Samaria (which thus became his "westbank"); his artillery bombarded the University and hospital buildings. Total demolition was averted only by the demilitarization of Mount Scopus, per agreement signed July 7 by representatives of the UN, Israel, and the Arab Legion. Terms of the U.N. armistice agreement of April 3, 1949, included resumption of normal activities on Mount Scopus. An Arab Jewish committee was to work out details. That, however, was not done, as Jordan refused to nominate representatives to the committee, so the enclave remained inaccessible to teachers and students,"(45) and the University's buildings, old and new, stood empty, with library, scientific equipment, and classrooms abandoned. The Hebrew University "in exile" built, with the help of its many devoted Friends overseas, a superb new campus on Givat Ram, a long narrow ridge just beyond the Kirya, with the new National and University Library at the center. In 1961 the splendid new Hadassah-University hospital was opened above Ein Kerem.

Then in June 1967 came the Six Day War, and Mount Scopus was freed. The historic Pilichowski painting was brought back, restored, rehung in a place of honor, never again to be hidden and furtively hustled to safety. The abandoned buildings of the University were reclaimed, rebuilt, rededicated, like the Temple in Maccabean times. On the hillside, chosen forty-two years before by Magnes and Weizmann for the Inauguration, one could almost hear again Arthur James Balfour proclaim to the assemblage before him and all the world, "l declare the Hebrew University opened."


(1.) The Struck etching of Theodor Herzi in profile had been reproduced in The Menorah Journal for December 1915, as frontispiece.

(2.) Leopold Pilichowski, 1867-1993. Painted in Lodz, Paris, London, Palestine. Noted for Jewish portraits and scenes of Jewish religious and general life, in addition to the large panoramic painting on Mount Scopus.

(3.) Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, the Autobiography (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1949), p. 136.

(4.) Norman Bentwich, For Zions Sake, a Biography of Judah L. Magnes (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1954), p. 147. Bentwich (1883-1971) -- member of an English Jewish family eminent in letters, Zionism, and public service -- was attorney general in Palestine 1920-31, then for twenty years professor of international relations at the Hebrew University. Among works of his in addition to those cited herein is Hebrew University of Jerusalem 1918-1960 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1961).

(5.) Judah L Magnes, 1877-1948. Born San Francisco, postgraduate studies U. of Berlin, U. of Heidelberg (Ph.D. 1902). Zionish Reform rabbi. Organized New York "Kehillah," headed it from 1909. Pacifist during World War. Settled in Palestine 1921. In 1924 established the Institute of Jewish Studies. Became chancellor of the Hebrew University 1925, first president 1935.

(6.) Weizmann, Trial and Error, p. 137. As the northernmost summit of the mountain ridge called Mount of Olives, Mount Scopus dominates Jerusalem from the northeast, and consequently has played a strategic role in the history of the city and the land.

(7.) Lotta Levensohn, Vision and Fulfillment, the first Twenty-five Years of the Hebrew University 1925-1950, introduction by Israel S. Wechsler (president of the American Friends of the Hebrew University) (New York: Greystone Press, 1950), p. 29.

(8.) Encyclopedia Judaica (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1971), entry by Norman Bentwich on Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in vol. 8: columns 219-26.

(9.) Weizmann, Trial and Error, p. 237.

(10.) Weizmann and others felt that primary attention should be given first to scientific research and postgraduate studies, a classical pattern in European universities; undergraduate classes could come later (Weizmann, Trial and Error pp.316-7). An opposing view favored more emphasis from the start on popular education for the Jews of Palestine, a goal espoused by Vladimir Jabotinsky, who called for a popular university to appeal to the masses of the Jewish people, (Bentwich, For Zion's Sake, p. 149). Magnes leaned toward Jabotinsky's concept despite some inconsistency with his idealistic espousal of Jewish and Arab brotherhood in Palestine.

(11.) Other visitors shown around by Judah Magnes were also struck by the spectacular setting. Rudyard Kipling remarked, "The students should be good men and women in such inspiring surroundings, but would they not be distracted from their work by this wonderful scenery?" (Bentwich, For Zion's Sake, p. 157.

(12.) Bentwich, For Zion's Sake, p. 153.

(13.) Weizmann, Trial and Error, p. 317.

(14.) Meyer Weisgal, So Far, an Autobiography (New York: Random House, 1971), pp. 71-74.

(15.) Bentwich, For Zions Sake, p. 157.

(16.) Weizmann, Trial and Error, p. 319. Today the Minnie Untermyer Memorial Stage there is solid as a rock.

(17.) Bentwich, For Zion's Sake, p. 157.

(18.) Arthur Ruppin (1876-1943): Prussian-born economist, sociologist, and Zionist leader who played a vital role in Palestian agricultural settlement and economic development. It was he who had negotiated acquisition of the Mount Scopus tract and Grey-Hill House, and he later became professor of sociology of the Jews in the University.

(19.) Achad Ha-am, pen name of Asher Ginzderg (1856-1927).

(20.) The facsimile chart identifies many others present such as Governor of Jerusalem Sir Ronald Storrs, the poets Zalman Shneour and Saul Tchernichowski, the Oxford University Hebraist Herbert Danby (canon of St. George's cathedral in Jerusalem), and Professor Richard Gottheil of Columbia University, New York. From Warsaw traveled Rabbi and scholar Moses Schorr: from Cracow the city's Rabbi Osias Thon -- also member of the Polish Parliament: from Vienna Chief Rabbi Tzevi Peretz Chajes, chairman of the Zionist General Council 1921-5. From Egypt came the Arab rector of the University of Cairo; from Switzerland Dr. Rappard -- rector of the University of Geneva and first director of the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations; from the British Museum Viscount Ullswater, former speaker of the House of Commons; from Cambridge University there came also Sir Arthur Schuster -- astronomer and physicist and Secretary of the Royal Society; from the University of Leeds there was British mathematician Selig Brodetsky (who would succeed Magnes as president in 1949). Hebrew University professors Andor Fodor and Otto Warburg were present, as were the architect Prof. Patrick Geddes, Meir Dizengoff, who had laid the cornerstone of Tel Aviv in 1909, and Gershon Agronsky (later Agron) -- then director of the WZO press office; he would found the Palestine Post seven years later (it became the Jerusalem Post in 1950), and serve as mayor of Jerusalem from 1955 till his death in 1959. Among artists were Hermann Struck and Boris Schatz, the latter founder in 1906 of both the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts and the National Museum of Jerusalem. Lady Allen by was present as were Lady Samuel, Dr. Vera Weizmann, Dr. Celina Sokolow, and Isaac Goldberg, whose philanthropy had made the great day possible.

(21.) Norman Bentwich, My Seventy-seven Years (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1961), p. 80.

(22.) "The scene in connection with this great occasion can hardly be described. Between thirty-five and forty thousand people were scattered all along the mountain, many of them seated in an amphitheater on tiers of stone. People from every section of the country were there. Those who could not afford to come in automobiles or train walked many miles to be present at this event... Young men and women, many of them with good education, have come to Palestine to build the Homeland. Happiness and contentment are written on their faces. There they are free, and their spirit is rejuvenated," Simon Shapinsky, "Notes on a Trip to Palestine," The Chronicler, monthly publication of YMHA of Louisville, Kentucky, Vol. XIII, No. 7 (Sept. 1925): 3ff.

(23.) "The ceremony was timed to start at 3 P.M., but long before that every available square inch was occupied and even trees were climbed, and the police had difficulty in restraining the public outside the enclosure...the enthusiasm of the 10,000 spectators was most inspiring, particularly when one knew that many, being unable to afford the fares, had walked many miles from outlying colonies, taking several days on the way, expressly to attend on this great occasion and see Lord Balfour," The Times (April 2, 1925): 14.

(24.) Marvin Lowenthal, "Inaugurating the Hebrew University," in "Letters from Abroad" column, The Menorah Journal (June 1925): 273-78.

(25.) Blanche E. C. Dugdale, Arthur James Balfour (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1937), p. 271.

(26) The Times, April 2, 1925.

(27.) The Right Hon. The Earl of Balfour, Speeches on Zionism, ed. by Israel Cohen (London: J.W. Arrowsmith Ltd., 1928), pp. 74-91. The transcript in The Times, April 2 1925, is abridged.

(28.) The fledgling university -- those two or three little buildings -- then had 141 research students. Today it has some 22,000 students, including 6,500 post-graduate candidates, with a faculty of 1,200, and fourteen schools on four large campuses.

(29.) "From the outset...Arabic studies were in the forefront of the programme of the first faculty, which was devoted to the Humanities -- or, in their Hebrew name, the Sciences of the Spirit," Norman Bentwich, "The Hebrew University -- a link between East and West," in A. Altmann (ed.), Between East and West, Essays Dedicated to the Memory of Bela Horovitz (London: East and West Library, 1958), pp. 70-74.

(30.) Bentwich, For Zion's Sake, p. 157.

(31.) Weizmann, Trial and Error, p. 323.

(32.) Lowenthal, "Inaugurating the Hebrew University" p.276.

(33.) One who did not speak was the chancellor of the University, Dr. Magnes -- nor did he wear academic vestment. He was ambivalent toward the event and Balfour's participation in it. His biographer relates, " offended his intellectual integrity that there should a world proclamation about the opening of a University which hardly existed, and he expressed his misgivings to Abad Ha'am" (Bentwich For Zion's Sake, p. 158). Judah Magnes played a vital role in the early development and consequent future course of the new university. The biography by Bentwich is a perceptive account of the man and his times by a friend and kindred spirit, and his idealism regarding the nature of Eretz Israel, although controversial, was respected even by opponents.

(34.) Balfour, Speeches on Zionism, p. 18.

(35.) Lowenthal, "Inaugurating the Hebrew University."

(36.) Benyamina, a small colony near Caesarea, was founded by sabras, sons and daughters of pioneers in other settlements. It was named for Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934), Maecenas of the early Yishuv, Benjamin being a Hebrew version of Edmond.

(37.) The moshav Balfouria in the east Jezreel valley was founded in 1922 by settlers from Europe and the US with aid from the American Zionist Commonwealth Corporation.

(38.) Lord Balfour in Galilee. Last Stage of Palestine Tour," The Times (April 8, 1925): 13,

(39.) Ibid, p. 13.

(40.) The Times (April 20, 1925): 18.

(41.) Levensohn, Vision and Fulfillment, p. 74.

(42.) Clement Atlee's replacement of Churchill following the July 5, 1945, election may have brought some domestic benefits in Britain, but was catastrophic for the pitiful survivors of the European horror and for the Yishuv. The callous Ernest Bevin, new foreign secretary, truckled to anti-Jewish elements in the Colonial Office and military, which even Churchill when in office had not always been able to override. Weizmann recalls the sorry chapter -- Trial and Error, pp. 439-40, 81. The most charitable view of Bevin is in Bentwich's My Seventy-seven Years, pp. 218-19.

(43.) Chaim Yassky (1896-1948) emigrated to Palestine from Odessa 1921, after medical studies in Europe, specializing in ophthalmology. Dr. Yassky served Hadassah, the University, and the people of Palestine, Jew and Arab; his martyrdom April 13, 1948, along with that of his fellow doctors, University teachers, nurses and students, was Kiddush haShem.

(44.) Bentwich, For Zion's Sake, pp. 270-71. A detailed account of the April 13 atrocity is in Marlin Levin, Balm in Gilead, the Story of Hadassah (New York: Schocken Books, 1973), pp. 201-214.

(45.) Encyclopedia Judaica (Jerusalem: Keter publishing house, 1971), entry by Norman Bentwich on Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in vol. 8: columns 219-26.
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Title Annotation:Lord Arthur Balfour; Mount Scopus, Israel
Author:Hurwitz, David Lyon
Publication:Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought
Date:Sep 22, 1995
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