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Mount Scopus

Mount Scopus
הַר הַצּוֹפִים Har HaTsofim
جبل المشارف Ǧabal al-Mašārif
The Hebrew University campus and tower on Mount Scopus from the south
Elevation 826 m (2,710 ft)
Location Jerusalem
Range Judean

Mount Scopus (Hebrew הַר הַצּוֹפִים Har HaTsofim, "Mount of the Watchmen/Sentinels"; Arabic: جبل المشارفǦabal al-Mašārif, lit. "Mount Lookout", or جبل المشهد Ǧabal al-Mašhad "Mount of the Scene/Burial Site", or جبل الصوانة "Mount al-Swana") is a mountain (elevation: 2710 feet or 826 meters above sea level) in northeast Jerusalem.

In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Mount Scopus became a UN-protected Israeli exclave within Jordanian-administered territory until the Six-Day War in 1967. Today, Mount Scopus lies within the municipal boundaries of the city of Jerusalem.


  • Name 1
  • History 2
    • Antiquity 2.1
    • Modern era 2.2
  • Landmarks 3
    • Hebrew University of Jerusalem 3.1
    • Hecht Synagogue, Hebrew University 3.2
    • Bezalel Academy of Art and Design 3.3
    • National Botanical Garden of Israel 3.4
    • Jerusalem British War Cemetery 3.5
    • Hadassah Hospital (Mount Scopus) 3.6
    • Jerusalem American Colony Cemetery 3.7
    • Bentwich Cemetery 3.8
    • Kiryat Menachem Begin 3.9
    • Cave of Nicanor 3.10
    • Tabachnik Garden 3.11
    • Ammunition Hill 3.12
  • Gallery 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The ridge of hills east of ancient as well as modern Jerusalem offers the best views of the city, which it dominates. Since the main part of the ridge bears the name Mount of Olives, the name "lookout" was reserved for this peak to the northeast of the ancient city. Its name in many languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Greek and Latin) means "lookout." Scopus is a Latinisation of the Greek word for "watcher", skopos, the same as in "telescope" (tele- meaning far and skopos - watcher). Adding to the multi-layered meaning of the name, it is also said that in times in which Jews were not allowed to enter Jerusalem by the city's Roman or Christian authorities, they used to come and look at their former capital from this vantage point.



Overlooking Jerusalem, Mount Scopus has been strategically important as a base from which to attack the city since antiquity. The 12th Roman Legion camped there in AD 66.[1] In AD 70, at the conclusion of the same war that led to the destruction of the Jewish Temple, Mount Scopus was used as a base to carry out the final siege of the city by the same 12th Legion, plus the 15th and 5th Legions, while the 10th Legion was positioned on the continuation of the same ridge, known as the Mount of Olives).[2] The Crusaders used it as a base in 1099.

Modern era

Hebrew University inauguration ceremony, 1917
Hadassah nursing school under construction, c. 1934
the Botanist Alexander Eig established the National Botanical Garden of Israel - 1931

The exact location of the mountain known in the ancient sources as Mount Scopus is not known. It is described as being in the north-eastern part of the ridge that prominently includes the Mount of Olives, which dominates Jerusalem from the east. As the Zionist organisations decided to build a new Jewish institution of higher learning in Jerusalem, which eventually became the Hebrew University, they decided that it was unwise to try and ask for donations for a project designed to be built on the Mount of Olives, a location with mainly Christian connotations. The site chosen for the university did correspond approximately to the description of the ancient Mount Scopus, and so it was decided to name that particular peak Mount Scopus. The name became widely used and few Jerusalemites would nowadays know about this rebranding story of an old name. The ancient Mount Scopus cannot be far though from the modern one. In 1948, as the British began letting go of their security responsibilities, the Jewish enclave on Mount Scopus became increasingly cut off from the main sections of Jewish Jerusalem. Access to hospital and university campus was through a narrow road, a mile and a half long, passing through the Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.[3] Arab sniper fire on vehicles moving along the access route became a regular occurrence, and road mines were laid. When food and supplies at the hospital begun to dwindle, a large convoy carrying doctors and supplies set out for the besieged hospital, leading to an attack that became known as the Hadassah medical convoy massacre.[3] Seventy-eight Jewish doctors, nurses, students, patients, faculty members and Haganah fighters, and one British soldier were killed in the attack. After the ceasefire agreement of November 30, 1948, which established the division of East and West Jerusalem, Israel controlled the western part of the city while Jordan controlled the east. Several demilitarized "no man's land" zones were established along the border, one of them Mount Scopus.[4] Fortnightly convoys carrying supplies to the university and hospital located in the Israeli part of the demilitarized zone on Mount Scopus were periodically held up by Jordanian troops.[5]

Article VIII of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization to settle disputes between the Israelis and Jordanians.

Two Jewish-owned plots in al-Issawiya, known as Gan Shlomit or Salomons Garden, were purchased by Mrs. V.F. Salomons in 1934 and sold to the Gan Shlomit Company, Ltd. in 1937.[7] This land was surrounded by a fence, but clashes erupted when Arabs living on the other side of the fence sought to cultivate land, pick olives and carry out repairs on homes close to the fence. The Arabs were requested not to work closer than fifty metres from the fence unless prior permission was granted by the Israeli police.[7] There were two versions of the demilitarization agreement: one was initialed by Franklyn M. Begley, a UN official; the local Jordanian commander; and the Israeli local commander; while the other was not initialed by the Israeli local commander. Having two versions of the map was the cause of many incidents within the Mount Scopus area.[7]


Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Construction of the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University began in 1918 on land purchased from the Gray Hill estate. The dedication ceremony was held in 1925 in the presence of many dignitaries.[8] A design for the university campus by Sir Patrick Geddes positioned the university buildings on the slopes of the mount, below a domed, hexagonal Great Hall recalling the Star of David, as a counterpoint to the octagonal Dome of the Rock in the Old City.[9] This plan was never implemented, but Geddes designed the university Library, today the Hebrew University Faculty of Law on Mount Scopus.[9]

By 1947, the university was a solid research and teaching institution with humanities, science, medicine, education and agriculture departments (in Rehovot), a national library, a university press and an adult education center. The university had a student population of over 1,000 and 200 faculty members.[8]

Hecht Synagogue, Hebrew University

Hecht Synagogue, this massive building which looks more like a fort than a place of worship and prayer, was erected by the family of Mayer Jacob "Chic" Hecht (1928-2006), a Republican United States Senator from Nevada and U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas. It is noted for the unique arrangement of the Torah ark and the panoramic view of the Old City from a huge window.[10]

Bezalel Academy of Art and Design

Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is Israel's national school of art, founded in 1906 by Boris Schatz. It is named for the Biblical figure Bezalel, son of Uri (Hebrew: בְּצַלְאֵל בֶּן־אוּרִי), who was appointed by Moses to oversee the design and construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:30).

National Botanical Garden of Israel

the National Botanic Garden of Israel in the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus (also called: the Land of Israel Botanic Garden) was founded by botanist Alexander Eig in 1931. This garden contains one of the largest collections of Israeli uncultivated plants. This was the first home of Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo.[11] A cave in the garden has been identified as the Tomb of Nicanor of Alexandria, who donated one of the gates of Herod's Temple.[12]

Jerusalem British War Cemetery

The British cemetery in Jerusalem (Jerusalem War Cemetery) is a military cemetery for fallen soldiers of the British Empire, later known as the British Commonwealth of Nations, in World War I in Palestine. The cemetery is located on the neck of land on the north end of the Mount of Olives and west of Mount Scopus.[13]

2515 were buried in the cemetery fallen soldiers, of 2449 war dead, including 2218 British casualties. A total 100 fallen soldiers are unidentified.[13]

A memorial was placed in the cemetery to 3300 service personnel killed in operations in Palestine and Egypt who have no known grave.[14] In all, commemorated in this cemetery are 5815 service personnel of World War I. No casualties buried in the cemetery died after the war.

Hadassah Hospital (Mount Scopus)

In 1939, the Ein Karem neighborhood.[15] On April 13, 1948, a civilian convoy bringing medical supplies and personnel to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus was attacked by Arab forces. 78 Jews, mainly doctors and nurses, were killed in the ambush.[16]

Jerusalem American Colony Cemetery

The Jerusalem American Colony Cemetery (Mount Scopus) is a main cemetery of the Jerusalem American Colony located next to the Hebrew University in the Tabachnik Garden.

Bentwich Cemetery

Is a smal cemetery beside the Jerusalem American Colony Cemetery in Tabachnik Garden. the cemetery is dedicated to Herbert Bentwich and his family in the Tabachnik Garden.

Kiryat Menachem Begin

Kiryat Menachem Begin, named after former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and also known as Kiryat HaMemshala, is a complex of government buildings in East Jerusalem located between Sheikh Jarrah in the north, adjacent to Mount Scopus in the east and Ammunition Hill in the west. It serves as home to several government offices, along with the main government complex in Givat Ram. It also includes the National Headquarters of the Israel Police.

Cave of Nicanor

The Cave of Nicanor is an ancient burial cave located on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, Israel. Excavations in the cave discovered an ossuary referring to "Nicanor the door maker."[17] The cave is located in the Botanical gardens on the grounds of the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The cave Nicanor planned to organize a national Pantheon of the Zionist movement, but due to circumstances (the area of Mount Scopus after receipt of Israel's independence was an enclave, surrounded by the West Bank territorial possessions of Jordan), this project was not implemented. in the cave Nicanor buried only two of the Zionist leaders - Leon Pinsker and Menachem Ussishkin. after 1948, the National Pantheon was created in Mount Herzl.

Tabachnik Garden

Tabachnik Garden is a National Garden located in the southern downs of Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, next to the Hebrew University. the garden is preserved some Jewish burial caves from the Second Temple period and two smaller cemeteries. in the garden also two points of views, one to the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert and the other to the Temple Mount.

Ammunition Hill

Ammunition Hill was a fortified Jordanian military post in the north-west side of Mount Scopus in Jerusalem that was in the northern part of Jordanian-occupied East Jerusalem. It was the site of one of the fiercest battles of the Six-Day War.



  1. ^ Rome and Jerusalem; The Clash of Ancient Civilizations. Martin Goodman p.13
  2. ^ "The Jewish Wars" Josephus v 81 and 82
  3. ^ a b Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem!, 1972, pp.284-285, Simon & Schuster, New York ISBN 0-671-66241-4.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c Encyclopedia Judaica, "Jerusalem," vol. 9, pp. 1497, Keter, Jerusalem, 1978
  6. ^ a b UN Doc S/1302/Rev.1 of April 3, 1949 Hashemite Jordanian Kingdom Israel Armistice Agreement
  7. ^ a b c Report of the Firing Incident of May 26, 1958 on Mount Scopus UN Doc S/4030 17 June 1958
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ Hecht Synagogue: A fortress of faith overlooks Jerusalem
  11. ^
  12. ^ Haaretz Man bites history By Tom Segev
  13. ^ a b [1] CWGC Cemetery Report.
  14. ^ [2] CWGC Cemetery Report.
  15. ^ a b c NY Times
  16. ^
  17. ^ Clermont-Ganneau, "Archeological and epigraphic notes on Palestine," Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement, 1903, pp.125-131; Gladys Dikson, "The tomb of Nicanor of Alexandria," Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement, 1903, pp.326-332

External links

  • Mount Scopus - The Hebrew University
  • Mount Scopus - The Brigham Young University
  • Jerusalem Photos Portal - Mount Scopus
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