History and Heritage
The Scopus Story.
Tuesday 8 February 1949 - a momentous date. The Victorian Jewish Day School for Boys and Girls, known as Mount Scopus College was opened. On that day, 143 primary aged students walked through the repurposed Victorian mansion gate at 414 St. Kilda Rd. Melbourne to begin their education.
In the mid-to-late 1940’s, waves of survivor refugees immigrated to Melbourne with a renewed spirit after the murderous loss of European Jewry during World War II. The Jewish population of the city soon flourished. Through the tenacity of a small group of visionary founders, the path was urgently paved for the first co-educational Jewish Day School in Melbourne. Yet to be officially named, the registration was created for Victorian School No.1490.
Enrolments at the College grew exponentially and within three years more space was desperately needed. An expansive site was secured in Burwood, state-of-the-art plans were created and multi-phase, multi-building construction was soon under way. By 1955 and only six years after opening, the College had enrolled more than 600 primary and secondary students across two campuses. A further milestone was reached in the same year with the first matriculation students sitting their final exams.
Now in its eighth decade, College milestones continue to be reached. Steeped in a rich and colourful history, Scopus is a leading Victorian school which values community, Jewish identity, academic excellence and holistic development.
Mount Scopus, in Hebrew “Har Hatzofim”, is a significant Lookout Mountain overlooking northeast Jerusalem. It also houses Israel’s second oldest University, the Hebrew University. It is an exemplary academic institution and its first Board of Governors included Albert Einstein, Chaim Weizmann, Sigmund Freud and Martin Buber.
Interestingly, College records do not indicate why the name was chosen for the school.
In 1952, Mount Scopus College became a Memorial College as a true memorial to the fallen in war and the six million Jewish people exterminated during World War II.
The College colours Light Blue, Gold, White and Black were selected for their significance:
Sky Blue - the brilliance of the sky symbolizing freedom.
Gold - signifying durability and permanence.
White - for purity and peace.
Black - commemorating the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
In 1948, a design competition for the College crest was launched. The winning design bore a lion (emblem of the tribe of Judah) clutching a biblical Torah scroll in its mouth, all encased regally in gold and topped by a gold crown.
The College motto ‘Chazak V’ematz’ originates from the Book of Joshua (1:6) and translates loosely as ‘Be Strong and Courageous’. ‘Be Strong and of Good Courage’ was adopted as the official motto.
Following the 50 years Jubilee celebrations of the College, the crest was refined for the launch of the new uniform. The subtle change saw the removal of the scroll from the lion’s mouth, instead depicting it gripped firmly in the lion’s right paw.
Now our students and graduates, represented by the lion, would be able to clearly voice their ideas and be heard.
To find out more about our history, contact Frankie Pinch (OC'76), Archive Manager to schedule a visit, to volunteer, or for any general queries, on firstname.lastname@example.org.