DISKIN, MORDEKHAI (1844–1914), Ereẓ Israel pioneer. Diskin, born in Grodno, Russia, worked with his father as a market gardener. In 1882 he settled in Ereẓ Israel with his family and bought a holding in Petaḥ Tikvah that had been abandoned by earlier settlers because of malaria. He farmed there until his son shot and wounded a robber, and fear of vendetta caused him to move to Jerusalem. Diskin returned to Petaḥ Tikvah when it was resettled on the site of the neighboring village of Yehudiyyah. He became coachman in 1891, transporting passengers and goods between Petaḥ Tikvah and Jaffa, and taught Mishnah and Shulḥan Arukh in the evenings. Later he moved to Jaffa, still as a coachman, and his house became a free lodging for settlers who came to Jaffa for medical treatment. At the end of his life he became a shopkeeper, studying Torah and performing acts of charity. He was one of the founders of talmud torah Neẓaḥ Israel in Petaḥ Tikvah, the first modern religious school in the country. His monographs Divrei Mordekhai ("The Words of Mordekhai," 1889), Ma'amar Mordekhai ("Mordekhai's Essay," 1912), and Yishuv ha-Areẓ ("Settlement of the Land," 1913) are descriptions of the hardships of early agricultural settlement in Ereẓ Israel. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Tidhar, 1 (1947), 439; M. Smilansky, Mishpahat ha-Adamah, 1 (1943), 99–103. (Avraham Yaari)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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