A plan to raise an endowment fund of at least $10,000,000 within five years so that a fund of approximately $500,000 would be available annually to support the work and expansion of the Hebrew University was outlined by Dr. Judah L. Magnes, Chancellor of the University, in an address he delivered at a dinner given him and Mrs. Magnes by Mr. and Mrs. Felix M. Warburg at the Hotel Biltmore Wednesday night. More than 200 prominent American Jewish leaders were present to hear the report of Dr. Magnes on the progress made by the university in the past few years.
Mr. Warburg, who is Chairman of the American University Committee which is in charge of raising funds in this country for the university, presided.
“At this moment when we welcome Dr. Magnes back from Palestine the good news comes to us that the Jordan electrification scheme, has been started, promising for all of Palestine greater progress.” Mr. Warburg said.
“Little Palestine has all the troubles of all countries but has some of the joys that no other country has. When I visited Palestine I found the University and the Teachers’ College progressing. These institutions have done very well. I confess that the new school buildings gave me a real thrill. Now we have heard that the recent earthquake has damaged some. The Chemistry and Jewish Studies buildings were damaged. It is necessary to draw on permanent funds to make repairs immediately. Dr. Magnes on this trip hopes to secure about $40,000 which will pay for the necessary repairs. I can say no investment that I have made has given me as much genuine satisfaction as the money I have given to the Hebrew University.
“Mrs. Sol Rosenbloom’s building to house the Institute of Jewish Studies and Philip Wattenberg’s building to house the Physics Institute are under way. At the present moment $800,000 worth of building construction is being undertaken.
“All Jews will be proud of what is being done in the Hebrew University. I recently spoke to Dr. Milton J. Rosenau of Harvard University, who declared when he saw the buildings of the University that Jews who behold this new seat of learning will feel a deep sense of pride in the achievements of Jewish thought. I believe the University will do a great deal for the Jewish people here and in Europe. In the Institute of Jewish Studies where the students prepare for the Rabbinate, the atmosphere of Palestine steeped in the traditions of the Jewish spirit will provide an inspiration which is not to be had elsewhere. I am certain that when they go forth to lead their congregations the years spent at the Hebrew University will be a never-ending source of inspiration,” Mr. Warburg declared.
“I should like to say that I am here in order to try to persuade the Committee in America to do two things,” Dr. Magnes began. “I want it in the first place to adopt a financial program for the University that will bring it at the end of five years from now about $500,000 a year. This past year we expended about $200,000 on maintenance aside from any money that we put into buildings. We want for the next year to try to spend about $350,000 a year, and as I say in the course of the next five years to increase our annual expenditures so that at the end of that period we may be able to expend $500,000. Now that, as the good calculators here will see, is the income on about $10.000,000, and we should therefore like to get, if this is in any way possible, an endowment of $10,000,000, or annual subscriptions guaranteed for a number of years the equivalent of the income on $10,000,000.
“We have at the present time endowment funds amounting to almost $1,500,000, and we have a number of subscriptions up to ten years–from three to ten years–which assure the existence of the institution in its present form for a considerable period. But it is necessary for a university to grow if it is to become a power in the learned world.
“Our University is being established at a most momentous time in the history of thought and we are compelled in Jerusalem to do basic fundamental thinking, and the question presents itself: Is it not possible for us as Jews to do that thinking, that hard reasoning, that facing of ourselves and of all the problems of life and of the world honestly better in Jerusalem than it is elsewhere?
“Undoubtedly there are great Jewish individuals doing this thinking everywhere. There are great Jewish scholars in the science of Judaism doing their thinking along their lines, and we find on the other hand philosophers, physicists, mathematicians, men of religion who happen to be Jews, doing their thinking along their lines; but there is hardly a meeting of the two. There is no place in Jewish life where all of human knowledge may be put under the glass of the concentrated Jewish mind. There is no place, such as a university can be, where thinking on all subjects may be done by Jews so that the one view may clarify another, so that Jewish learning may be taken out of its corner, out of its Ghetto so to speak and put on a level with all other learning, and that all other learning may come under the influence of our Jewish dogmas and of our Jewish ideals.
“We ask even why it is that the University in Jerusalem is an Hebrew University. It would be in many ways a much easier and simpler thing for us to have a university that was conducted in another of the official languages of Palestine, for example English. It would bring us a larger influx of students. It would establish our relations with our neighbors upon an easier footing. It would enable us to get professors more easily than we can get them now. Nevertheless, this fundamental undertaking is a Hebrew University,–and why Hebrew? Because in our endeavor to do this basic thinking on Judaism and on life and on the meaning of reality, we must go back upon ourselves, upon our deeper selves. We must go back to our classic tradition which is an Hebraic tradition.
“In Palestine which is the land of the Bible,” he continued, “we have the Bible in Hebrew by reason of the fact that Hebrew is the spoken tongue there. The children of the country are acquainted with their Bible. Indeed the Bible as a living document has been handed back to the Jewish people and any people that lives with the Bible as a living vital document must in the course of time be influenced by its great ideals. Those who are familiar with the Hebrew Bible in this intimate original creative sense come into touch with the Mosaic legislation, with the mysticism, and with the Hebraic ideals of social justice of the Hebrew prophets. The Hebrew tradition is the bearer of these great Hebraic ideals and it is because the Hebrew language has been the channel through which this classic Hebraic tradition has always lived and has come down to us that we are eager to attach ourselves to it, and insofar as we can come back again to the source of our being.
“Hebrew is in addition a symbol of the continuity of our religious tradition as contra-distinguished from Christianity for example. It is the Christian theory of Jewish life that Jewish history was at its apex during the lifetime of Jesus of Nazareth. The Jewish conception on the other hand is that Jewish history has never ?eased being creative; that its continuity is unending, and it is the Hebrew channel, the Hebrew tradition that has enabled us to carry forward this continuous, creative historic tradition.”
Speaking of the progress made by the University Dr. Magnes said: “Now we have in the University the beginnings of three faculties; I say the beginnings. These three faculties are: a faculty that we may call that of Philosophy and Arts; then a faculty of Natural Sciences and the beginnings of a faculty of Medical Science.
“In connection with the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts we have two schools; the one school the Institute of Jewish Studies where Judaism is the subject of our study; the second, the School of Oriental Studies where the civilization of Islam as expressed in the Arabic language is the subject of our studies. The School of Jewish Studies is naturally the center, the heart of our University. It would be inconceivable for a Hebrew University not to have an Institute of Judaism. It is not a theological school. We have in our Institute men of varied views of Jewish life. We have no theological preconceptions, although the problem of religion is one of our chief concerns. We do expect that theologians, rabbis, Jewish teachers, Jewish writers, anyone interested in Jewish studies will come to this Institute in order to pursue his advanced studies, for in order to get such knowledge as we can give him he has to come to a university and not to a theological school, and it is a place which is dedicated wholly and solely to seeking out the truth as the truth may be developed. In this Institute of Jewish Studies we have at the present time eleven men on our teaching staff. When I was here two and a half years ago we had three men which will indicate to you the advance that the Institute has made in these two and a half years.
“At one of the lectures in the Institute of Jewish Studies this year a professor of Harvard University, not a Jew, came to us and asked, after he had been invited to lecture, whether he could talk on his subject, namely the beginnings of Christianity. And we assured him he could talk freely on it, that the University would be glad to hear what he had to say. He began his first lecture by declaring that this was a most unusual privilege for him. He saw in the audience not only the professors and the student body of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus outside of Jerusalem, but he saw also a distinguished gathering of scholars, among them two Dominican priests, a Francescan monk, a German research worker, members of the English Church interested in Palestinian lore and others who would grace any assemblage of learned men. When he began to talk on his theme, tears trickled down his checks, and at the end of his lecture or a couple of days later, in talking it over with me, he said that he felt he owed an apology to the University for having given way to his emotions in the way that he did, and he wanted to say that this had been one of the great experiences of his life. ‘To think,’ he said, here I have all my life been devoting myself to the study of these sources that came out of Palestine, and here I was at this University, and as I began to talk I looked out of the window of your building, and to below me was the temple place, the place where your temple and mine once stood.’ That is to my mind a moving symbol of what the Hebrew University can mean for others,” Dr. Magnes said.
“If it can mean that much for others, is it not reasonable to suppose that it can mean equally as much for us, and are we not sure that it will mean much more, that it will give us new spirit and new mind as the prophet said, a new heart, new courage, new inspiration to carry on this great tradition of our people and make it, not as the others have, a tradition that is merely carrying on something obsolete, but a tradition that is more than worthy of its great Hebraic source.” Dr. Magnes concluded.
“The address of Dr. Magnes is the most comprehensive and succinct account of the University that I have over heard.” Dr. Cyrus Adler said. “For seven centuries we Jews have taken learning from all other Universities. Now, we ought to give one University back to the world.”
Judge Julian W. Mack said, “I trust the inspiration from Dr. Magnes’ address will permeate and induce wide circles of American Jews to participate in the making of the Hebrew University. It will be a monument worthy of the past, and worthy of the future The Zionist and non-Zionist should help the building of these foundations.”
Dr. Emanuel Libman of the American Jewish Physicians Committee for the Hebrew University, stated: “I have observed that the Jews in Palestine are rendering a service to the entire Near East. The Hadassah Medical organization which operates hospitals in Palestine, has exerted a healing influence on the relations between the various communities.”
James N. Rosenberg said, “Jewish Federations of Charities in the United States spend $46,000,000 annually. If I 1 per cent of this sum would be given to the Hebrew University its budget would be covered. A committee ought to be formed to reach the Presidents of all the local Federations to get their help along these lines.”
George Lubarsky announced the gift of $1,250. for each of five years to found a fellowship in the Department of Chemistry.
Among those present were Arthur Lehman, Louis Marshall, Dr. Lee K, Frankel Paul Baerwald, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, Mrs. Sol Rosenbloom, Jefferson Seligman, Philip Wattenberg, Louis Lipsky, Jacob Billikopf, Cyrus L. Sulzberger, James Marshall, David Shapiro, Morris Weinberg, Isidore D. Morrison, Walter E. Meyer, Bernard Semel, Alex A. Bernstern, Samuel N. Samuels. H. H. Libowitz, Judge Julian W. Mack, Dr. Joseph Krinsky, Dr. Solomon Lowenstein. Israel Matz, Sol M. Stroock, Elisha Friedman, Samuel Rottenberg, Dr. H. P. Kopitski, Dr. Isreal S. Wechsler, Dr. Nathan Ratnoff, Dr. Emanuel Libman, Prof. Milton J. Rosenau, Henry A. Dix. Israel Unterberg, Maurice Werthheim, James N. Rosenberg, F. Julius Fohs, and Judge Samson Lachman.