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The Beginnings of Bezalel:
From Europe to Palestine

During the years he spent in Bulgaria, Boris Schatz was particularly impressed by the development of home industries for the production of art. He reasoned that if Bulgaria, a small agricultural nation, could maintain a school with numerous departments for the development and commercial distribution of arts and crafts, a similar model could work for Jewish pioneers in Palestine. The dream of creating a new Jewish artistic ethos in the Land of Israel led Schatz to travel to Vienna in 1904 and seek out the blessing of the founder and leader of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl. Following Herzl's death later that year, Schatz re-presented his idea to several leading Zionists in Berlin who assumed responsibility for the project and its funding.

Schatz arrived in Palestine in early 1906, accompanied by only two teachers and two students. He immediately embarked on the daunting tasks of recruiting students, finding an appropriate building, and creating workshops. In the coming years, the school would grow to encompass numerous instructional departments, dozens of craft workshops, and a museum, all under the rubric "Bezalel."

Bezalel Building on Shmuel Ha-Nagid Street

In 1908, Schatz moved the school from its temporary quarters on Ethiopia Street to the iconic building that would house the school, the museum, and many of the original workshops for decades. Today, though most of the school's instructional and administrative departments are located at the modern campus on Mt. Scopus, the architecture department is still housed in the building compound acquired by Schatz.
Jerusalem, ca. 1913
Collection of the Israel Museum

Theodor Herzl Plaque

Shmuel Kretchmer (1894–1972)
Electrotype medal with lead backing
Jerusalem, struck ca. 1935

Collection of Ira and Brigitte Rezak