KULISHER , family of scholars and communal workers in Russia. Its founder, moses kulisher, went to Russian Volhynia from Galicia at the beginning of the 19th century. An adherent of *Haskalah, he engaged in agriculture.
His son reuben (1828–1896) was a physician and communal worker. After completing his studies at the Medico-Surgical Academy of St. Petersburg in 1856, he became an army physician and was sent by the government to Western Europe to specialize in the fields of military hygiene and sanitation, on which he later wrote studies and articles. Reuben was a friend and disciple of I.B. *Levinsohn. He also wrote scientific articles in Hebrew ("Al ha-Koḥot ha-Po'alim ba-Beri'ah" (after Helmholtz), in Ha-Ẓefirah, 1862, and "Mah Hi ha-Ẓara'at" in Gan Perahim, 1891). His memoirs, Itogi (1896), originally published in the Russian Jewish periodical Voskhod from 1891 to 1894, contain important material on the history of the education of the Jews in Russia; the author describes "the hopes and expectations of Russian Jewry over the last 50 years, 1838–88."
Moses' grandson michael (1847–1919), a historian, ethnographer, and communal worker, studied at the rabbinical seminary of Zhitomir and at the law faculty of the University of St. Petersburg. From 1869 to 1871 he was on the editorial board of the Russian Jewish newspaper Den. Proceeding to study scientific subjects in Western Europe, he published numerous articles in Russian and German periodicals, as well as several books, including Das Leben Jesu – Eine Sage (1876), in which he was one of the first to claim that the stories of the New Testament were only legends. He also attacked the blood libel. Michael Kulisher was a committee member of the *Society for the Promotion of Culture among the Jews of Russia and the *Jewish Colonization Association (ica) as well as one of the founders of the *Jewish Society for History and Ethnography, in whose quarterly he published several articles. His basic contention in these studies on the Jews in Poland and Russia is that the fate of the Jews in the Diaspora depends on the economic situation of the various host countries. Michael Kulisher was among the founders of the "Jewish Democratic Group," established in 1906 under the leadership of M. *Vinaver, which considered that the future of the Jews was bound up with the establishment of a liberal regime in Russia.
joseph (1878–1934), son of Michael, was a noted economic historian, author of important studies in Russian and German on the economy of Russia and Western Europe. In the field of Jewish history, he wrote on the economic situation of the Jews during the Middle Ages (in Voskhod, 21:9 (1901), 30–50; no. 10 (1901), 120–142) and on the Jews in Prussian silk production in the 18th century (in Yevreyskaya Starina, 11 (1924), 129–61). Another of Michael's sons, eugene (1881–1956), jurist and legal historian, moved to Germany after the Communist Revolution and lectured on Russian law at the University of Berlin. He later moved to France and then to the United States. His works include Europe on the Move: War and Population Changes 1917–1947 (1948). A third son, alexander (1890–1942), jurist and sociologist, settled in Paris after the 1917 Revolution. There he became one of the leading contributors to the newspaper of the liberal Russian emigrants, Posledniya Novosti. He lost his life in the Holocaust in France.
Aḥi'asaf, 5 (1897), 315–6; S. Ginzburg, Amolike Peterburg (1944), 139–51.