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Einstein Urges Aid to Hebrew University; $10,000,000 Sought in U.S.

September 20, 1954
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“Israel is the only place on earth where Jews have the possibility to shape public life according to their traditional ideals,” Prof. Albert Einstein declared here today, addressing 200 delegates at the concluding session of a two-day conference of the American Friends of the Hebrew University.

“We are all greatly concerned that its final shape will be worthy and gratifying. To what extent this goal will be reached will depend significantly on the growth and development of the Hebrew University,” Prof. Einstein said.

Prof. Einstein’s speech highlighted a long day of discussion at the Nassau Tavern here which culminated in a decision by the delegates to adopt a goal of $10,000, 000 as American Jewry’s share of the $30, 000, 000 building program to replace the University campus on Mt. Scopus from which it has been barred by the Arab blockade since Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

Dr. George S. Wise, president of the American Friends of the University, who participated in the ground breaking ceremonies for the new campus in Jerusalem last June, announced that the people and Government of Israel have resolved to raise half of the $30, 000,000 sum and have asked the help of Jews of the United States and other free nations to raise the remainder.


Before departing, the delegates contributed $2, 500, 000 towards the goal of $10,000, 000 in the United States and pledged to raise the sum of $1, 000, 000 “as an extra effort” for the establishment of the Albert Einstein School of Physics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “The Hebrew University is the logical and natural institution, “their resolution stated, “to perpetuate the name of Albert Einstein through teaching and research in physics to which he has made the outstanding contributions of our times.”

Prof. Einstein, who will serve as honorary chairman of the campaign–with Samuel N. Katzin of Chicago and Joseph M. Mazer of New York as national co-chairmen–told the delegates: “I regret, I even feel ashamed, that the Jewry dispersed through the countries of the earth has not yet succeeded in placing our university on a solid material basis so that it still has to exist precariously from hand to mouth. This would not be the case if our tradition of high esteem for the teacher had not been affected by the shallow materialistic tendency of our age. This must change.”


Prof. Einstein defined Jewish traditions as something embracing a wider field than religious ritual. “In our traditions it is neither the ruler nor the politician, neither the soldier nor the merchant who represents the ideal. The ideal,” Prof. Einstein declared, “is represented by the teacher, that is to say, the person who is able through his work and his effort to enrich the intellectual, moral and artistic life of his people. This implies a definite repudiation of what is commonly called materialism.

“The idea is,” Dr. Einstein continued, “that human beings can attain a worthy and harmonious life only if they are able to rid themselves, within the limits of human nature, of the striving for the wish fulfillments of a material kind. The goal is to raise the spiritual level of society.” The Hebrew University, while applying a good deal of its effort to practical goals so as not to remain a foreign body within the nation, is doing so “without losing sight of this high goal,” he said.

Dr. Ben Zion Dinur, Israel’s Minister of Education and Culture, addressing the delegates last night at the opening session which took place in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, emphasized the role which the Hebrew University plays in the development of Israel. He said that an extensive program of housing for the homeless university and its students was needed and that it still hoped to return to Mount Scopus “as we were promised in the armistice agreement.”

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