Hebrew U - Israel’s academic pride and joy

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The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is the grand old lady of Israeli higher learning. Founded in 1918, Hebrew U - as the university is affectionately known - opened its doors in 1925. It has six campuses, seven faculties, 14 schools, 23 000 students and 1 000 senior faculty members.
by ANT KATZ | Nov 16, 2016

Among the founders of this esteemed institution were Albert Einstein, Martin Buber, Chaim Nahman Bialik and Chaim Weizmann.

But, make no mistake, although Hebrew U is huge and famous, it is by no means a stuffy old Ivy League-type institution. On the contrary, it absolutely bristles with youthful energy.  

Hebrew U students Hi-res -LO credit Bruno Charbit

RIGHT: Smile for a selfie: Hebrew U students having some fun on campus - photo credit Bruno Charbit


Life on campus can only be described as idyllic. In Jerusalem it maintains three campuses: the Mount Scopus Campus for the humanities and social sciences; the Edmond J Safra Campus for exact sciences; and the Ein Kerem Campus for medical sciences.

Its other campuses are the Rehovot faculty for agriculture, food, veterinary medicine and environmental sciences; the veterinary hospital in Beit Dagan; and the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat.

The university has three of the most advanced sports facilities in Israel. It has 11 libraries, five computer centres, 6 000 dormitory beds, and dozens of student activity groups focusing on politics, society, the environment and more.

Hebrew U, which counts itself among the top 100 universities in the world, has a very deep involvement with foreign institutions, understandably so, given that its students hail from over 65 countries.


Hebrew U Board LO

Pictured above at the the Board of Governors Conference held on the Mt Scopus Campus of Hebrew U earlier this year are, from left, Julian Beare, Carmel Krawitz, Phillip Jacobson, Prof Michael Katz (President SAFHU), Michael Federmann, Prof Menachem Ben-Sasson (President, HU), Paul Berman, and Ambassador Yossi Gal (Vice President for Advancement and External Relations).

It is actively engaged in international co-operation for research and teaching, has signed 150 agreements for joint projects with other universities and 25 agreements for student exchanges with 14 countries. Its faculty members include young scholars who have returned to Israel from advanced studies at leading institutions of higher education throughout the world.

The South African Friends of the Hebrew University has a very strong leadership, with the likes of Prof Michael Katz as president, Jeff Katz as its Johannesburg chairman, Paul Berman in the Cape Town chair and Julian Beare in KwaZulu-Natal..

The university’s Rothberg International School offers programmes for overseas students and even boasts actress Natalie Portman among its alumni.

Hebrew U has been a leader in bringing about changes in the world community in agriculture, environmental quality and public health. Students from developing countries carry out advanced studies here and return to their home countries to apply the knowledge they have gained.

In fact, the university is currently involved in a research project on behalf of South Africa, with foreign funding they raised, to solve a potential food crisis in this country as pollinating bees are disappearing.

Over the years Hebrew U has accumulated eight Nobel Prize laureates, and a Fields Medal winner in mathematics among its faculty members.

The Yissum Research Development Company of Hebrew University is 15th in the world in the number of patents registered. Yissum is responsible for marketing the technology and scientific know-how generated by Hebrew University researchers and students.

To date it has registered over 7 000 patents for 2 023 inventions. More than 600 of these patents have been commercialised, and have led to manufactured products. Revenue from patents bring in over $2 billion a year.

Particularly outstanding developments include life-saving drugs; a cherry tomato variety with a particularly long and excellent shelf life; Mobileye, a “computer-vision” vehicle collision warning and driver safety system and agricultural innovations such as drip irrigation systems.

Further information

  • South African Friends of Hebrew University’s office is at Beyachad and executive director Carmel Krawitz can be reached at (011) 645-2506 or by e-mail at [email protected]. There’s a wealth of further information on our website at sajr.co.za



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