Yosef Vitkin ws born in Mohilev, White Russia. He received an orthdox education in Torah and Hebrew writing as well as in Russian. When he was 17 years old he studied bookkeeping and worked in a commercial office dealing in grains. He gave up his plan to become a government Rabbi when he decided to come to Eretz Israel and to become an agricultural labourer. In 1895 he came to Rishon Le Zion. He worked for several months as a labourer and when he was invited by the people of Gedera to become a teacher there he accepted and became a teacher and headmaster of the school there. Despite the fact that he had received no formal education as a teacher he invested all his energy and talent into his work which was, in his eyes, the work of God and soon he became known as an outstanding teacher who succeeded in gaining the affection of his pupils.
Later he was headmaster of the Kefar Tavor school for several years and from 1902 until he died some ten years later he was a teacher and principal in the hebrew school in Rishon Le Zion.returned to the country in order to end his life here.
The mourning on the death of this very special teacher was profound. All the settlers in the nearby villages were invited to his funeral. All the work in the winery came to a halt that day in honour of the deceased. All the school children and their teachers participated in the funeral. Obituaries were read on behalf of the Village Committee, the school, the teachers and the "Hapoel Hatzair" party. In the publication of the Teachers Union of the 3rd of Shevat 1912 they wrote: ?On account of the mourning the tree planting festival of Tu B-Shevat was cancelled as well as the celebration that was planned for that month. We wish to make a point of the fact that outstanding credit can be given to the people of Rishon Le Zion for the respect the village showed to this teacher both when he was sick and also after his death and on this account the village is entitled to every praise?.
After his death his friends published a collection of his articles in a book "The Writings of Yosef Vitkin".