After World War II, Hadassah sought to assist the Jewish population in Palestine by training a new generation of professionals in the areas of science, industry and medicine. As part of this effort, the organization founded a number of vocational schools and career counseling centers. In 1970, Hadassah voted to establish a community college in Israel based on a model that had gained popularity in the United States, according to Barbara Goldstein, deputy director of Hadassah’s office in Israel.
The Hadassah Community College opened its doors in downtown Jerusalem in 1972. Its historic main building dates to 1888 and was donated to Hadassah by the Baron Rothschild in recognition of the good works of Henrietta Szold, Hadassah’s founder. It became the site of the first Hadassah hospital. The building also housed the Alice L. Seligsberg Trade School for Girls.
Hadassah Academic College, as it is now called, is the largest college in Jerusalem, with a student population of about 2,000. The college offers associate and academic degree programs in a variety of technological and non-technological fields, including computer sciences, health and life sciences, design, and communications and management.
Prof. Bertold Fridlender, the college’s president since August, said that Hadassah has provided and continues to provide crucial financial support through its fundraising efforts. “Hadassah has been a partner to the college since the day it was created,” Fridlender says. “We look forward to continuing this partnership that has been so important to us.”
In coming years, Fridlender says the college aims to grow its enrollment to 3,000 students and to expand educational opportunities for the ultra-Orthodox population. The Council for Higher Education recently selected the college to launch a preparatory program for male Haredi students who want to pursue higher education. (Four years ago, the college’s immediate past president, Prof. Nava Ben-Zvi, initiated a similar program for Haredi women.) In order to better serve Haredi students, the college says it plans to open a mini-campus near Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood in December.
Promoting education, Goldstein says, “was one of the missions of Hadassah from its founding and remains to this day a vital part of our relationship with the state of Israel.”