Hebrew University launches centenary fundraiser

Lord Arthur Balfour and Chaim Weizmann were among the dignitaries at the laying of the Hebrew University’s cornerstone 100 years ago.

ONE hundred years to the day after the laying of the cornerstones of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Australian alumni and other supporters are being urged to donate towards the institution’s next century of knowledge, innovation and excellence.

An international fundraising campaign is being held on the centenary next Tuesday to help finance research breakthroughs, scholarships and recruitment of the world’s best and brightest.

Speaking at the cornerstone-laying ceremony on Mount Scopus on July 24, 1918, Chaim Weizmann, one of the university’s founders alongside Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, said, “It seems at first sight paradoxical that in a land with so sparse a population, in a land where everything still remains to be done, in a land crying out for such simple things as ploughs, roads, and harbours, we should begin by creating a centre of spiritual and intellectual development”.

“But it is no paradox for those who know the soul of the Jewish people … We Jews know that when the mind is given fullest play, when we have a centre for the development of Jewish consciousness, then coincidentally we shall attain the fulfilment of our material needs.”

He added, “The university … is to teach everything the mind of man embraces … a modern university must not only produce highly trained professional men, but give ample opportunity to those capable and ready to devote themselves to scientific research to do so unhindered and undisturbed.”

A century on, the university is one of the world’s leading research and science institutes, with researchers and alumni having won eight Nobel Prizes, a Fields Medal, 269 Israel Prizes, nine Wolf Prizes, 89 Rothschild Prizes, and 33 EMET Prizes for Art, Science and Culture.

“We are very excited to be participating in this innovative campaign, to be run on the very day that – 100 years ago – Dr Chaim Weizmann and others laid the university’s first cornerstones on Mount Scopus, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem,” said Michael Dunkel, president of the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

“We are proud to walk in the footsteps of giants like Weizmann, Einstein, Freud, Martin Buber and others who were the visionary founders of the Hebrew University.

He added, “Given world time zones, the Global Giving Day will come to life in Australasia before the rest of the world, and I call on our very committed local Jewish community to get behind the event so we can set the tone for the rest of the world and get this campaign off to a great start.”

For more information and to make a donation, visit www.hugivingday.com