||Izhak Ben-Zevi (1884–1963), yishuv leader, second president of Israel. Ben-Zvi was a founder and leader of Zionist Socialism, of the pioneering Zionist labor movement, and of Jewish self-defense, both in Russia and in Erez Israel. He also made important contributions to the historiography of Erez Israel and of ancient and remote Jewish communities. His personal simplicity, modesty, and empathy for all the communities and sects of the country endeared him to the citizens of Israel.
Ben-Zvi was born in Poltava, Ukraine, the eldest son of Zevi Shimshelevich (Shimshi). His father, a member of Benei Moshe, went to Erez Israel in 1891 to explore possibilities for settlement. Educated in both a traditional and a modernized heder, Ben-Zvi later studied at a Russian gymnasium (1901–05). He visited Erez Israel for the first time in 1904 for a period of two months. He entered the University of Kiev in 1905, but studies were interrupted by the general strike that year. During the November pogroms he was active in the Jewish self-defense organization in Poltava. In 1906 he attended the founding conference of Po'alei Zion-Zionist Social Democrats of Russia, held in Poltava where his childhood friend, Ber Borochov, proposed the founding program of the party. Ben-Zvi served on the committee of three that formulated the final version of the program and was himself responsible for the points dealing with Palestine.