A Year’s Work at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem

The practical value of the Hebrew University in the general advancement of Palestine was once again demonstrated during the past year in its scientific research. Work in the laboratories on Mount Scopus to a large extent contributed towards the solution of every-day problems of this country. These included anti-malaria work and the fight against poultry diseases undertaken by the Department of Hygiene; devising of methods to combat insects injurious to plantations, done by the Department of Zoology; investigations in the growth capacity of seeds and in the formation of soils by the Department of Bio-Chemistry; elucidation of problems connected with the industrial exploitation of the Dead Sea salts, furnished by the Department of General Chemistry; and the services rendered by the Geologist in acting as consultant to the Palestine Government on plans for the water supply of the country.

Unfortunately, most research work had to be limited owing to the difficult financial condition and numerous research projects, including many that might have had important results, had to be abandoned for this reason.

The two outstanding events in teaching at the University during the year kosher.

were first, the inauguration of the Division of Biological Studies, and second, the first graduation of thirteen students who were awarded their M.A. degree in January, 1932. It is gratifying to note that a large measure of coordination and co-operation has been established between the Faculty of Humanities and the Division, whereby students are permitted to combine subjects from both. Four study subjects in the Division were found suitable to serve as minor subjects for students of the Humanities who might choose them. They are: (1) Botany—two years’ course, (2) Zoology—two years’ course, (3) General Biology, two years’ course comprising elementary courses in both Zoology and Botany, and (4) Physics—comprising a year’s course in Experimental Physics, a year’s course in Theoretical Physics, with supplementary courses in General Chemistry and Mathematics.

The field of subjects to be selected by students has thus been considerably widened. Students who major in Philosophy may even take both their minor subjects from the above, and students of Biology will have to take one at least of the courses in Humanities, preferably in Philosophy.

Tpition fees were fixed for the first time during the year, only new students being obliged to pay them. Next year all will be required to make such payments. In consideration of general conditions, it was decided that the fee should not be too large, and it was established at $25 (at par) per annum, with a registration fee for new students of $5 and a laboratory fee of $50 for students of Biological Sciences.


Total enrolment of students during 1931-1932 amounted to 187. They comprised:

181 Undergraduate Students

6 Research Students

165 in the Faculty of Humanities

22 in the Division of Biological Studies

160 Regular Students

27 Auditors

145 Male Students

42 Female Students

50% who had received their school education in Palestine:

50% who had received their school education abroad (in numerical order: Poland, Russia, Roumania, Lithuania, United States, Germany, Latvia, Great Britain, Bulgaria, Hungary, Egypt, Syria, Canada, and Czechoslovakia.)

Of the thirteen graduates, the major subjects chosen were eight in Hebrew Literature, two in Philosophy, two in Talmud, and one in Islamic Art and Archaeology. The six research students chose major subjects as follows: One in Jewish History, one in Hebrew Literature, one in Talmud, and one in Classics.


Of the 23 prizes and scholarships, for a total amount of £770 (about $3,850 at par), six were prizes for work, third-teen were scholarships, and three graduation scholarships. Mr. Sigmund Thau, of New York City, made an important donation so as to grant free study each year to a number of needy and talented students. Mr. Jacob Epstein, of Baltimore, Md., made a gift of $1,000 which enabled the University to devote £100 for the maintenance of the Students’ Club. University and other people helped in the formation of a Pro-Student Society, under the chairmanship of Prof. S. Klein, which gives a monthly grant towards the students mensa, extends small loans for short periods, and aids in emergency cases. The Mack-Friedman Loan Fund granted seven loans to University students, particularly those who were preparing for examinations.

The graduates have formed a Hebrew University Alumni Association, and a committee of professors has been appointed to advise and assist graduates to find employment. The Students’ Association continued its social and economic activities, among the function it sponsored being the Seder at Pass over, a well-attended occasion. Owing to heavy indebtedness, the students had to abandon their rented clubrooms in May until their debts are paid; b# there seems a possibility of a students club and kitchen being erected near the University—a considerable amenity and medium for social contacts if it happens.


In both the teaching and research Institutes and Schools of The Hebrew University, developments was as normal as limited funds and opportunities would allow. Some of the special problems considered included that of the establishment of a Chair of Pedagogy, so as to enable students later to succeed as teachers by giving them a good pedagogical training. An important change in graduation generally has taken place in that the University Council decided for independent work in a specific scientific subject. Students will also have to be examined in one foreign language other than Hebrew not later than the end of the second year of their course at the Faculty of Humanities, while it has been suggested that students from abroad without a full training in Hebrew be required by the Faculty to examine in Hebrew. Members of the Faculty academic staff had a number of publications on scientific points pending or in manuscript form during the year; unfortunately many could not be published owing to very limited funds, and have had to be kept back in manuscript form until suitable opportunities for printing are presented.

The Division of Biological Studies could only admit twenty-two students this year, owing to limited accommodation and unfavorable budgetary conditions. It is hoped to adjust these external conditions so as to admit thirty or forty students. The Division is run by a Teachers’ Council of five professors, two lecturers, and three representatives of the Assistants, of whom one acts as Secretary. Professor A. Fodor was elected Chairman of this Council.

Among research activities, mention should be made of Dr. E. L. Sukenik’s work at Samaria, where the ancient royal palace of the Kingdom of Israel was excavated and some remarkable ivory pieces, which formed ormaments to beds and other furniture at the palace, were brought to light. The excavations were under a joint expedition formed by the University of Harvard, the Hebrew University, the Palestine Exploration Fund of London, and the British School of Archaeology.

In the Institute of General Humanities, Dr. Hugo Bergmann published a work on “The Philosophy of Solomon Maimon.” The series of translations of philosophical texts was enriched by publications selected from Leibniz, Rousseau, and Descartes. Professor Roth’s annual Achad Ha’Am Memorial Lecture was “Reason and Will as Factors in Religion.”

Research work in the Institute of Mathematics comprised theory of real functions (change of signs), theory of analytical functions, theory of summability of infinite series, theory of sets (transfinite diameter), in non-commutative algebra, and in integral equations.

The Department of Biological and Colloidal Chemistry continued research on main problems initiated some years ago, these relating to protein structure during which a method of anhydrolitic decomposition was developed by Prof. A. Fodor and his co-workers (leading to an important insight into the constitution of gelatin and casein); to enzyme problems; to soil profiles, particularly to analogies between Cyprus and Palestine in Mediterranean soil formations; to kinds and phenomena of inter-molecular forces in protein constituents (peptides are now the object of study, after conditions in amino-acids had been clarified); to investigation with improved apparatus into the separation of anti-toxins and anti-bodies from accompanying substances, particularly from serum proteins, and an examination of proteolytic enzymes on anti-bodies. Former work on association phenomena of gelatin was supplemented by an investigation of the influence of temperature and previous treatment on the osmotic pressure of gelatin solutions.

In the Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry, attention was directed to the clarification of laws and general phenomena characteristic of chemical processes in concentrated solutions and in the field of catalysis. General rules were found for mixtures of water and ethyl alcohol, and were accepted by scientists abroad. An examination was made of Rubidium and Caesium in the Dead Sea, an activity subsidized by Palestine Potash, Ltd. In the Laboratory of Applied Chemistry, work on pyridin and its derivates, as well as the influence of certain mineral salts on the decomposition of hay, was continued.

Observations on animal associations (their activity and annual, or daily, succession), research on the body temperature of insects for several years, investigations into the habits of the African migratory locust, comparative investigations of the growth in weight and mould of insects, a population analysis of Australian fluted scale icerya purchasi and its predator Novius cardinalis in orange-groves near Hedera, researches in the ecology and systematics of soil protozoa, work on the influence of citrus nutrition on the mass development of scales, and investigations into the gas metabolism of certain insect eggs and on the ecology of the earthworm, and a beginning of study on the morphology and ecology of the free living soil nematode, were the principal activities in the Department of General Zoology and Entomology. In the Section of Systematic Zoology, Mr. Aharoni conducted research expeditions that yielded excellent results, and mention should be made of the capture of the Syrian desert ostrich, accomplished with great difficulty.

In the Department of Botany, research gravity was shifted from systematic to phyto-geographical and ecological problems. In the field of genetics, inter-mixtures were carried out between different kinds of the Aegilo### species, and apparatus devised to analys# the chromosomes of plants with the determination of which the Department engaged. The Herbarium of the Department was enriched by about 10,000 specimens as a result of the excursions in Palestine and abroad. The planting of the J. Montague Lamport Memorial Botanical Garden commenced this year, and the first section, where the flora of Palestine and to a certain extent of Syria, as they exist under original conditions unchanged by man, was started. The Section of Biblical Botany and Plant-Lore reported a number of new specimens in the flora of the Bible and Talmud typical to Palestine. Research in the terminology and philology of plants in ancient Jewish literature was continued.

The Section of Geology did important field work in the Upper and Lower Jordan Valley, mainly on tertiary and diluvial deposits.

The Department of Parasitology continued its research into Mediterranean Kala-Azar on behalf of the Royal Society, establishing that in Italy and Malta, and apparently also in the Western Mediterranean, the sandfly Phlebotomus perniciosus is the probable transmitter of Kala-Azar to man and dog by bite. Investigation of the life history and biology of a tick of the genus Ornithodonis which feeds on poultry and a systematic study of the cestode family dipyllididae were among other activities.

In the Department of Hygiene, work was continued on investigation of problems related to susceptibility and resistance to infection and to the epidemiology and control of endemic diseases. The previous findings on the relation of high temperatures to a disturbance in the fat metabolism and the corrective effect of vitamine B. have been confirmed and the surmise that summer toxicosis in infants is a related phenomenon is now being verified by expe###ments thus far conducted by the Department in cooperation with the Department of Pediatrics of the Hadass### Hospital. Other activities include studies on Rickettsia and filterable viruses, on immune bodies produced by pathogenic trypanosomes in infected animals and of immunity phenomena in pathogenic trypanosome infections in general, on malaria and mosquito habits, on nutritive habits of the different popula-

tion groups, and on the etiology and control of poultry diseases prevailing in Palestine. The Florence and Felix Warburg Fellowship in Social Hygiene is held by Dr. Mark Lifschitz, of Germany, who is investigating the basal metabolism of people belonging to different communal groups and living under different climatic conditions.


Marked budgetary reductions were the prevailing characteristic in the Jewish National and University Library during the year, these being reflected in decrease of staff. Nevertheless considerable advance was shown in the fields of Judaica, Orientalia, and Medicine, as well as in Pedagogy and Sociology. Publication of “Kirjath Sepher,” which has entered its ninth year, continued and the quarterly is now regarded as the foremost review in the field of Hebrew bibliography.

Wider reference opportunities to Hadassah Hospital physicians and practitioners in Jerusalem unable to spare time to come to Mount Scopus, were established by transfer of the Medical Department of the Library, housed in the Nathan and Lina Straus Health Centre, to two spacious rooms at the Hadassah Hospital. The American Jewish Physicians’ Committee was instrumental in maintaining intact subscriptions to journals, Dr. Julius Jarcho for his continued helpfulness in purchasing books, and Dr. Henry I. Wachtel, of New York City, took the initiative of establishing a special Section in Dental Literature. Some important gifts were made during the year of libraries and selected publications.

During the year, 16,300 volumes were catalogued, the largest additions being in the field of Judaica.


The Minnie Untermyer Memorial Open-Air Theater,gift of Samuel Untermyer, of New York is under reconstruction, and is expected to be ready for dedication within the near future.