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Nachman Syrkin - Biography

Nachman Syrkin - Biography

Nachman Syrkin was born in Belorussia in 1868. He attended high school in Minsk after his family had moved there, and joined the  'Hovevei Tzion (lovers of Zion) in that city, but also was in contact with contact with Russian revolutionary circles. In 1888, he was arrested. He then fled to London and thence to  Berlin, where he studied psychology and philosophy.  In Berlin, Syrkin helped  found the Russian-Jewish Scientific Society, whose members included future Zionist leaders such as Shmaryahu Levin, Leo Motzkin and Chaim Weizmann. Syrkin tried a career as a writer, but returned to complete a Phd in Bern in 1903.

Nachman (Nachman) Syrkin: A Founder of Socialist Zionism
Nachman Syrkin (1868-1924 )
A founder of Socialist Zionism

zionism dictionary

By 1888, Syrkin had conceived of his hallmark idea: the combination of non-Marxist socialism and Jewish nationalism. In 1897, he was a leader of the Socialist Zionists at the First Zionist Congress. In 1898, Syrkin published the article The Jewish Problem and the Socialist Jewish State, which appeared in an Austrian Socialist monthly.

Syrkin was known for his outspoken views. His frequent attacks on different ideologies led to loud protests at Zionist congresses. He criticized the "bourgeois and clerical" elements in the Zionist Organization. He  attacked Achad Ha'am's Cultural Zionism, for disregarding realities such as anti-Semitism, and took issue with The Marxist Zionism of Ber Borochov.  Syrkin was exiled from Germany in 1904, spent some time in Paris and, after the 1905 revolution, went to Russia where he continued to work with Zionist-Socialists. He emigrated to the United States in 1907. He joined the Poalei Tziyon and  remained the leader of the American Poalei Tziyon until his death. 

During World War I, Syrkin helped organize a Jewish Congress in America and supported the creation of a Jewish Legion that would fight on the side of the Allies to liberate Palestine. In 1919, Syrkin was a delegate at the Versailles Peace Conference.

Syrkin intended to settle in Palestine, but died suddenly of a heart attack in 1924. In 1951, his remains were reinterred at Kibbutz Kinneret with the other founders of Labor Zionism.

Ami Isseroff


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See also:

Nachman Syrkin - The Jewish Problem and the Socialist Jewish State

More Israeli and Zionist Biographies The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel

History of Zionism and the Creation of Israel

Labor and Socialist Zionism 

 

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