Bar-Ilan University Historical Milestones

Bar-Ilan University Historical Milestones





1950 – Prof. Pinkhos Churgin, one of the leading figures in the development of Yeshiva University in New York City and president of the "Mizrachi" movement in the USA, is the driving force behind the initiative to establish a university that combines Jewish values and academic excellence.




1955 – Bar-Ilan University, named after Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan (Berlin), a prominent religious Zionist leader, and head of the Mizrachi movement, is opened. The university's emblem is chosen as a combination of the Torah and a microscope, symbolizing the integration of the Jewish religion and science. Prof. Churgin serves as the university's founding president

During its first year, 90 students study at Bar-Ilan in 34 courses held in 8 classrooms and 2 laboratories – all in provisional buildings; the number of staff members totals 23. Studies are conducted in 4 departments: Jewish Studies; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Social Sciences; and Languages and Literature. Basic Jewish studies are an integral part of the academic program at Bar-Ilan, in accordance with the university's mission statement




1956 – During the university's second year, the number of students rises to 175. Many students and faculty are recruited and fight in the Sinai Campaign of 1956 ("Kadesh Operation"), while others volunteer at the nearby Sheba Hospital. Construction of the first buildings on campus is completed

1959 – The university's first graduates, numbering 27, complete their Bachelor's degree studies




1961 – The university graduates its first Master's degree students – numbering 5.

 1963– The university graduates its first PhD student.

 1965– A decade after the university's establishment, the number of students stands at more than 2,000; the number of lecturers exceeds 300. The Ramat Gan campus includes 22 buildings. University courses are offered for the first time in Ashkelon, with the purpose of enabling the residents of the city and its surrounding area to enhance their education.




1967 sees the launch of the first version of the "Responsa Project," a database consisting of the world's largest electronic collection of Jewish texts in Hebrew. The regional college in Ashkelon is recognized as an academic branch of the university. The Ramat Gan campus’ central library, named after Gustav Wurzweiler, is inaugurated. Bar-Ilan's students and staff members serve in various combat units, assisting civil defense efforts and volunteering at hospitals, contributing their share to the victory in the Six Day War.

 1968– First study courses are offered in Zemach (to be recognized as a BIU academic college in 1972) and in Safed (to be recognized in 1971).

 1969– Bar-Ilan University receives formal recognition of the Israel Council for Higher Education.




1972 – The Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies opens its gates, enabling yeshiva graduates to continue their religious studies alongside their academic studies.

1977 – The female counterpart of the Institute for Advanced Torah Studies for men – the Midrasha for women, is opened, with 44 female students.

By 1979 BIU offers new study tracks in all disciplines, such as a BA program in Medicinal Chemistry and Human Biology; MA programs in Education, Law, Criminology, Business Administration specializing in Economics, Geography and Classical Studies; and a PhD degree program in Social Sciences and Musicology, Journalism and Communications, and additional inter-departmental studies. New research institutes and chairs are also established, such as the Institute for Holocaust Research, the Chair for Community Services, the Chair for Jewish Law, and the Chair for Yiddish, among others.




1985-1995 – BIU now boasts five faculties: Jewish Studies, Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Law, with the total number of students reaching 10,640. Approximately 100 prominent new immigrant scientists join BIU’s faculty, boosting the research carried out at the university.

The university's five branches operate as regional colleges, having received formal recognition (Ashkelon, Safed, Jordan Valley, Ariel and the western Galilee.)

New industrial and commercial projects further enhance the university's solid reputation as a prominent research institute, while generating profit. These include, for example, projects involving the early detection of cancer, hampering the progress of Alzheimer's, medical treatment of burns, the production of kosher gelatin and much more

The Faculty of Jewish Studies, the largest of its kind in the academic world, undertakes major projects, such as the publishing of a new founding edition of "Mikraot Gedolot" and the production of a new, updated CD-ROM of the main holy books and hundreds of "questions and answers" books (Responsa Project), to name a few.

Following the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, the University launches study programs promoting tolerance, Jewish values and democracy, and creating a dialog between the religious and the secular populations in Israel.




1995-2005 – Bar-Ilan’s Ramat Gan campus now includes 70 buildings, 150 laboratories and 190 classrooms; the total number of students studying within its framework reaches 31,400. It offers 6,100 courses, taught by 1,350 staff members in 45 departments.

The new Faculty of Life Sciences is established in 1998; the University prides itself in the largest School of Education and School of Social Work in the country, the largest Faculty of Jewish Studies in the world, and numerous research institutes that are widely praised for the high quality work they carry out.

Bar-Ilan continues investing in its graduate students, initiating the program of President's Scholarships to Outstanding PhD Students – bringing about an increase in their number to 1,618 at the end of the university's fifth decade, almost doubling their number since the program was first launched.

The university is awarded a prize in recognition of the beauty of its campus, and the harmony and aesthetics of its design.

Bar-Ilan continues to view itself as a bridge between the citizens of Israel and Jews around the world. It establishes the world center for Jewish identity and introduces newly-developed study programs aimed at preventing Jewish assimilation abroad and reinforcing Jewish identity among Jewish youth in the Diaspora.

New community outreach programs are initiated, such as the establishment of academic centers in Bnei-Brak and Jerusalem for the benefit of religious Orthodox men and women.




2005-2015 – In 2005 Bar-Ilan University celebrates its 50th Jubilee anniversary, launching the Returning Scientists program. Since its establishment BIU has brought dozens of Israeli researchers back to the country.

In this decade the University saw an explosion of growth on campus with three new structures built in 2005: the Fred and Barbara Kort Language Studies Building and the state-of-the-art convention Wohl Centre on the north campus, and the Jeanne and Maurice Benin Rela Estate Law Annex on the south campus. June 2006 sees the dedication of the Beit Harav Jakobovits – The Shamoon Centre for the Study of Philosophy, Ethics and Jewish Thought on the north campus.

The one-of-a-kind Multidisciplinary Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Brain Research Building on the north campus is dedicated in 2009, while in 2010 BIU celebrated the dedication of the Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Nanotechnology Triplex which graces the south campus.

The Churgin School of Education is relocated into the state-of-the-art new Jim Joseph Education Building, situated on the north campus, in 2010. The School's unique Otzmot (Empowerment) Program offers higher education for Down's Syndrome and other intellectually disabled students.




In 2011 two new faculties are added to the Bar-Ilan roster bringing the total to eight – the School of Engineering is upgraded to a faculty, and the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee is established.

By 2010 Bar-Ilan's foreign student population mushrooms to over 700 students who live in the BIU neighborhood enjoying special programs and services provided by the university, including an English-language rabbi. There are eight English-language programs: International MBA - Global Enterprise Management, China/Asia Focus; Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing; MA in Linguistics in Clinical Research; Interdisciplinary BA in Social Sciences - Micro & Macro Tracks; Faculty of Law’s International Program for foreign students; School of Communication BA for international students; Israel Experience one-year program; and a Postbac Premed program.




In 2013 BIU reached out to provide services to close to 5,000 people in the community-at-large through its free optometry, law, psychology and social work clinics.

Today, as it is about to launch its 60th Jubilee year-long celebrations, BIU boasts eight faculties, dozens of research centers of excellence, over 120,00 alumni, over 32,000 students, more than 1000 of each hailing from all over the globe and over 750 Arab students, drawn from Christian, Muslim, Druse, and Circassian backgrounds all over the country. Senior faculty has grown to 690 with over 1,000 junior faculty members. Non-faculty researchers number 584.

The University offers BA, MA, MBA, BSc, MSc, PhD, and MD study tracks, in addition to teaching diplomas, non-degree diplomas, interdisciplinary study programs, summer and continuing education courses.

There are 52 departments with over 8,000 academic courses,69  research centers and institutes,77  endowed chairs, and60  active international research collaborations. The University has over 300 laboratories and over buildings located on both the south and the north campuses.24   Libraries holding more than 1,000,000 titles.

Ever loyal to its founders’ vision of promoting academic excellence combined with Jewish values and tradition, BIU continues to be a beacon of knowledge, cultivating groundbreaking research ventures, scientific discoveries and first rate academic education in the spirit of Jewish heritage and beliefs.


Last modified: 24/03/2015