Architect Moshe Safdie Speaks at the Dedication of the Taube Family Campus Entrance Plaza

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

It’s a very moving day for me today, to see the gates, the door of the campus of the Hebrew Union College open to the City of Jerusalem, indeed open to Israel. Since my involvement with this campus goes back 46 years, I would allow myself to look back as well as to look forward.

I remember the days in which Dick Scheuer and other members of the board met with Teddy Kollek and Golde, met you, and managed to get this most coveted piece of land in Jerusalem given to the college. And Dick Scheuer’s vision, which we followed, was that this would be an open beacon of liberal, progressive Judaism to Israel. This guided us throughout the months and years that we designed this campus. We were very proud when the design was selected after the opening to represent Israel. We traveled together with Dick and his family to Venice for the celebration.

Alas, for 36 years, the campus did not have a front door, and as the construction progressed, the city was represented with barbed wires and fences. The campus was kind of a mystery. And it was a very exciting moment when Tad Taube and President Panken called me one day and said, “We’re going to create this door. We going to create the entry to the campus.”

Now it has taken six years since we had the ground-breaking, and you might say, “You guys, architects, are very slow.” You know what took all this time? I mean, in six years in Singapore, I build the ten million square feet, but it is an expression of the resistance to this campus in some quarters of the city.

Every excuse, one after the other, to delay or stop us. And so I’d like, in that respect, to salute my colleague, Carlos Spruce. I don’t know where Carlos is, but working together with a team from the college and later on with the Jerusalem Foundation, persistently kept going without giving up until we got the permit for this enormous, complicated project in the heart of Jerusalem.

So here we are. I believe that this is a new moment for this campus, to be open and inviting, that the activities in it would draw Israelis to come and interact with the students who come from abroad, and that it would fulfill a mission for really being a place where people experience liberal Judaism. These are threatening, dark days, and I think that the timing of the opening of this campus to the city couldn’t be more appropriate. And I’m proud and honored to be part of it. Thank you.