One of the leaders of the Russian Zionists; born in 1863 in Dubrovna, government of Moghilef (Mohilev). In 1871 he went with his parents to Moscow. He studied the Bible and Talmud in the ḥeder till he was thirteen years old, and then passed successively through the professional and imperial technical schools, graduating from the latter in 1889 as an engineer. Since 1891 he has resided in Yekaterinoslav.
In addition to his secular instruction, Usishkin obtained a thorough Jewish education, and he has a good knowledge of the Neo-Hebrew literature. His public activity began while he was yet at school. He was one of the founders of the Bilu, the Jewish national students' organization, which formed the first Jewish colony in Palestine (see
Usishkin is a strong opponent of the Uganda project, and stands at the head of the party in Zionism which believes that the regeneration of the Jewish people can be accomplished in Palestine alone. In the twenty-four years of his activity as a leader of the Zionist movement he has contributed to the Jewish magazines many articles on different questions relating to Zionism; and his latest work is an account of the Zionist program, published by him in five languages (Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, German, and English). See Zionism.