The history of the Hebrew Teachers' College is the history of the Hebrew school in Palestine. The first schools in the country to adopt Hebrew as the medium of instruction for all studies, and to unite within their walls as one cultural unit the children of all communities, of all countries and languages, were founded some forty years ago. From the outset the need was apparent for teachers who, besides sound Hebrew learning, should possess deep general knowledge as well as a knowledge of pedagogy and the arts and crafts necessary in the modern school (drawing, singing, gymnastics, hand-work and gardening). Indeed the initial activities of the Hebrew schools in Palestine showed that mere scholars who had acquired their knowledge by a system of self-training, and the majority of the teachers in the country at that time were of this type, were neither able to raise the Hebrew thought in the school to the required standard of studies, nor to give it the appropriate external form. The problem of a Hebrew Teachers' College in Palestine thus arose more than thirty years ago. The idea came to fruition, however, only through the Relief Society of the German Jews (Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden), when the latter, too, realised that only young teachers who had received their training in the country, and not abroad, would retain connection with Palestine and be most suitable for the local public schools. Then it was that the Teachers' College was founded in Jerusalem.
For ten years the College remained under the patronage of the Hilfsverein fill in 1914, when the dispute arose over the language question, the institution, with practically all its staff and pupils, passed over to the Zionist Organisation. Since then it has been known as the Hebrew Teachers' College of Jerusalem.
With its entry into the school system of the Zionist Organisation, the College began to develop rapidly and well. In addition to graduates of Palestinian schools, numerous students from abroad, who had already completed College courses, enrolled here as pupils. Soon the Teachers' College became the focus of the spiritual movement of Jerusalem.
During the World War, however, the institution underwent numerous hardships and vicissitudes. The expulsion of a number of pupils from the country by Government decree, the conscription of a further number to be sent for training to the military schools in Constantinople, the banishment from Palestine of the Principal of the College and a number of his staff whose influence on the Jewish population the Government officials considered pernicious -- these were some of the hardships which the College encountered during the War. But with the beginning of the conquest of the land the influence of the College came again to the fore. Our students were among the first to volunteer their help in the conquest of the rest of Palestine by the troops of the allied Powers, and practically all of them served in the Jewish Legion for two years. Only after the lapse of a few years did our institution enter once more on its normal routine; then, revitalised, it began its progressive career in harmony with the new conditions prevailing in the land.
Every year large number of students who had completed their courses in the eight-class urban schools entered the College. In addition, together with the 'halutz' (pioneer) immigration, dozens of well-educated young men who possessed diplomas of overseas secondary schools and colleges, intellectuals, some even who had taught already in Hebrew schools in the Diaspora, enrolled now as students in the Hebrew College.
1. "History of the Institution," The Hebrew Teachers' College, Jerusalem, A Review of Its History, Situation, Building & Prospects, 1928, Jerusalem, pages 3-5.