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Chaim Hissin

(1865 - 1932)

Chaim Hissin was born in Mir, Byelorussia. Following the pogroms of 1881, he joined the Bilu group and reached Eretz Yisrael in July, 1882, among the first group of Bilu pioneers.

Describing his Zionist awakening, Hissin wrote, "The recent pogroms woke the Jews out of a sweet somnolence. Until now I was indifferent to my origins, and I saw myself as a faithful Russian. . . . I wished to devote all my efforts to the country I saw as my homeland, and suddenly those whom I considered my countrymen tell me I must leave." With the other Bilu members, Hissin worked in Mikveh Yisrael, Rishon L'Zion, and Gedera, but dissatisfied with the inability of the community to achieve financial stability, he left Gedera and worked as a coachman, ferrying passengers between Jerusalem and Jaffa.

Hissin left Eretz Yisrael in 1887 and remained abroad for nearly twenty years. He studied pharmacology in Russia, and in 1898 moved to Bern, Switzerland, to study medicine. While in Europe, Hissin was active in Zionist activities, and he wrote many articles about life in Eretz Yisrael.

Returning to Eretz Yisrael in 1905, Hissin settled in Jaffa and worked as a doctor. He was also active in workers' organizations, and helped establish various workers' settlements. Hissin was one of the founders of Ahuzat Bayit, which became the first nucleus of Tel Aviv. His experiences, published in 1925 as From the Diary of a Bilu Member, provide descriptions and insights into life of the Yishuv.

Sources: The Pedagogic Center, The Department for Jewish Zionist Education, The Jewish Agency for Israel, (c) 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, Director: Dr. Motti Friedman, Webmaster: Esther Carciente