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Joshua Syrkin

SYRKIN, JOSHUA (Grigory; 1838–1922), Hebrew writer and Zionist, born in Shklov. His family moved to Brest-Litovsk when he was an infant. In 1875 he settled in Panevezys, Lithuania, where he became a close friend of Judah Leib *Gordon. He studied at the Moscow Academy of Agriculture and published two scientific works, Devarim Aḥudim mi-Ma'arekhet ha-Domem (1868), and Ma'arekhet ha-Domem (1869), in which he made the first attempt to create a modern Hebrew terminology in the field of mineralogy. During the 1870s he lost interest in Hebrew letters and went to work in Baron Horace *Guenzburg's gold mines in east Siberia. During the 1880s he became a department head of the Libau-Romny railway and settled in Minsk.

After J.L. Gordon's death Syrkin edited his works for publication. Syrkin joined the Ḥibbat Zion movement and was among the leaders of the Doreshei Zion society in Minsk. He took part in negotiations with barons *Rothschild and *Hirsch in 1891–92 and published a pamphlet entitled She'erit Ya'akov (1891), in which he drew up a program to establish a center (Beit Va'ad) to direct Jewish emigration from Russia and settlement in Ereẓ Israel. In 1894 Syrkin traveled to Ereẓ Israel to visit the settlement Ein Zeitim founded by his society. He participated in the first Zionist Congresses. In his book Ḥezyonot Laylah (1903) he advanced his views on the history of the Jewish people and closed with a utopian description of the reborn state of Israel.


Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 499–500.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.