Zeev Elkin was born in 1971 in Kharkov, then part of the Soviet Union (today in the Ukraine), and studied Mathematics at Kharkov University from 1987-1990. In the middle of high school, Elkin began learning Hebrew secretly in the framework of the Jewish underground. In 1989, he established the local Hebrew Teachers Organization, became the Deputy Head of the 100,000 member Jewish Community of Kharkov, and the first and last head of Bnei Akiva of the Soviet Union. Elkin immigrated to Israel in December of 1990 and studied at the Har Etzion Yeshiva until 1995, while at the same time working in the Aliya Department of the Gesher Organization.
Elkin has a BA in Mathematics from Hebrew University, a MA in the History of the Jewish People from the Hebrew University, and before his election to the Knesset, was at an advanced stage of completing a doctoral thesis at the Hebrew University in the subject of Jews in Islamic countries in the Middle Ages. From 1996-2006 he taught in the University’s School of History of the Jewish People and the School of History, and headed the Chais Center for Jewish Studies in Russian. In addition, he served as an advisor on Russian Jewry to the head of the Education Department of the Jewish Agency.
Elkin was first elected to the Knesset in 2006, and in the 17th Knesset he served as a member of the Finance Committee, the Education Committee, the Constitutional Committee, and the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee. In the 18th Knesset Elkin served as Chairman of the Likud Faction and Chairman of the Coalition, as well as chairman of the Sub-Committee on Judea & Samaria in the Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, chairman of the Land of Israel Lobby, chairman of the Jerusalem Lobby, chairman of the Lobby for Supporting the Diaspora, and chairman of the Lobby for Gush Katif Evacuees. In November 2012, in the Likud primaries, Elkin placed 8th in the party primaries and was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in March of 2013, following the general election for the 19th Knesset. Elkin held the post until May 2014, when he was appointed Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In the Likud primaries in December 2014, Elkin placed 7th and in May 2015, following the general election for the 20th Knesset, was appointed Minister of Aliyah and Absorption as well as Minister of Jerusalem and Heritage. In May 2016, Elkin spearheaded the initiative to add the Yisrael Beiteinu party to the government. As a result, Elkin agreed to give up the Absorption portfolio which was transferred to the Beiteinu party within the framework of the coalition agreement. Minister Elkin continues to serve as Minister of Jerusalem and Heritage and a member of the Security Cabinet and in August 2016 Minister Elkin was also appointed Minister of Environmental Protection. In May 2020, after new government was established Minister Elkin was appointed Minister of Higher and Complementary Education and Minister of Water Resources
Elkin lives in Jerusalem. He is married with five children.