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In the 1930s and 1940s, the Hebrew University began conducting research on and teaching social topics. In the beginning, these studies grew within departments in the Humanities Faculty, such as Sociology of Israel, Sociology of Religion, Economics, Israeli Society and the Middle East. Later, these and other subjects were organized within the new Department of Social Studies in the Faculty of Humanities.
Following the War of Independence in 1948, there was an urgent need for the rapid development of Social Science Studies. Mass immigration had doubled the population and changed the structure of society. The economy was growing fast and encountering serious difficulties. Under these conditions, there was an increased demand for economists, sociologists, statisticians and civil and business administrators.
The Hebrew University took responsibility for educating its students in these subjects as well as developing scientific and teaching methods in economics, social sciences and administration.
This mission became possible when a group of friends (led by the late Joseph Sprinzak) wanted to honor the memory of the late Eliezer Kaplan, first Finance Minister of the State of Israel. Kaplan had made a significant contribution to the Israeli economy and civil administration so creating an institution in his memory to provide for the future of these establishments was a fitting memorial.
In March 1953, the institution was established and recognized as a separate faculty, although for many years it continued to maintain special relationships with the Faculty of Humanities. In the spring of 1968, the structure of the administration was changed and the Faculty of Social Sciences became an independent faculty.