One of the Zionist movement, dreams was to establish a Hebrew university in the land of Israel. The establishment of the university was proposed as far back as 1884 in the Kattowitz conference. A major supporter of The Hebrew University was Albert Einstein, a Jewish physicist, who later bequeathed all his property and writings to The Hebrew University.
The cornerstone for the university was laid in 1918, and, seven years later, on April 1, 1925, the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus of Jerusalem was opened at a gala ceremony attended, among others, by leaders of world Jewry including the University's chairman of the board, Chaim Weizmann, distinguished academic and communal figures, and British dignitaries including Lord Arthur James Balfour, Viscount Allenby and Sir Herbert Samuel.
Its first Chancellor was Dr. Judah Magnes.
By 1947, the University had grown to become a large, well established research and teaching institution. It comprised faculties or other units in humanities, science, medicine, education and agriculture, (the last at a campus in Rehovot); the Jewish National Library (later becoming the National Library of Israel, a University press; and an adult education center.
After the attack on the Hadassah convoy in 1948, the Mount Scopus campus was cut off from the Jewish part of Jerusalem, and the university was forced to relocate to a new campus in Givat Ram in western Jerusalem which was completed in 1953. A few years later, together with the Hadassah Medical Organization, a medical science campus was built in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Kerem in southwest Jerusalem.
By the beginning of 1967, the students numbered 12,500, spread among the two campuses in Jerusalem and the agricultural faculty in Rehovot.
After the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of June 1967, the University was able to go back to its original in Mount Scopus, which had to be reconstructed. In 1981, the construction work was completed, and the Mount Scopus campus again became the main campus of the University.
As of 2003, it has four functioning campuses and nearly 23,000 students. It is considered by many as one of the world's leading universities.