Si liked to say, “Every Jewish life is a novel”. Si’s life confirms this.
Liberated from Dachau at the age of 14. Refugee camps in Germany and Italy. Schools in Switzerland and England, a B.A. from NYU and finally a home and family in California’s San Fernando Valley.
A flourishing business neglected when Soviet Jews send a message to America: “Why have you forgotten us?” Si Frumkin the businessman becomes Si the activist.
The index of Anatoly Dobrynin’s autobiography, “In Confidence”, lists 19 references to the “Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union,” By contrast, Moscow’s Ambassador to 6 U.S. presidents mentions “U.S. Cultural exchanges” just 3 times and “Nuclear weapons non-proliferation” just once. If only we had known...
Frumkin – and a handful of others – had the insane notion that we could take on the Soviet superpower and win. But win we did. The Soviet Union is no more. Over a million former Soviet Jews – and their children – now live in freedom.
Frumkin’s life was never boring. He interpreted for Ronald Reagan. Met with Senator Scoop Jackson on the Jackson Amendment. Spent time in the Soviet Union knowing that the Soviets could arrest him as a treasonous Soviet citizen. Spent some time in a Los Angeles jail with his then executive director, Zev Yaroslavsky, for creating a disturbance at a Bolshoi Ballet performance – went to trial, was acquitted. Demonstrations, letter writing campaigns. Met good friends – and a wife – among Soviet immigrants.
Lectures, foreign missions, TV appearances, thousands of articles written. Fighting for Israel, for Holocaust survivors, for fairness in the media. Causes won, others lost. Honors, titles, awards – and hate mail and threats – received.
The family of Si Frumkin will carry on with this website in preservation of his legacy. There are plans to publish a book of Si's articles both in English and in Russian. We need volunteers to help us with this work. Go to "Contact Us" page, leave your name, address, phone # and/or email and we will get back to you asap with all our gratitude.
Si Frumkin was born in Lithuania, in 1930. He spent the war in a number of concentration camps and was liberated from Dachau by the U.S. Army in 1945, at the age of 14.
After studying in Switzerland and England he immigrated to Venezuela in 1948. In 1949 he was admitted to New York University, graduating in 1953. He then moved to California to work for a textile firm whose presidency he assumed in 1965. In 1964 he earned a Master's Degree in history by taking night courses at U.C.Northridge.
In Los Angeles Frumkin worked closely with Zev Yaroslavsky who was SCCSJ executive director for 5 years and who headed the Calif. Students for Soviet Jews before being elected to L.A. City Council, and in 1995 to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Under Frumkin's leadership the SCCSJ led the way in activities that were eventually adopted by organizations elsewhere. The first pickets and demonstrations at cultural and athletic events, Candlelight Walk rallies with tens of thousands of participants, direct phone calls and letters to Soviet Jews, over a million of specially designed greeting cards mailed to the USSR, Prisoner of Conscience medallions with 200,000 distributed worldwide.
Frumkin, who was fluent in Russian, kept in close contact with Jewish activists in the USSR. In 1973 he visited the Soviet Union bringing out film and photographs that were featured on national TV and print media. In 1989 he participated in the first-ever Union of Councils meeting in the Soviet Union, visited several cities, and met hundreds of Soviet Jewish activists. He visited Russia again in 1989, 1990 and 1993, and has served as a host and interpreter for a number of Russian dignitaries visiting Los Angeles. Frumkin appeared on a number of TV and radio shows and has contributed articles to countless magazines and newspapers. He taught a number of college level courses on Eastern Europe, Jewish history, and the Middle East. He was the associate editor and columnist for the California-based Russian-language weekly "Panorama", as well as a free-lance contributor to a number of national and international publications. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, had been appointed to the L.A. City Human Relations Commission in 1993, and in 2002 to the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Board. In 2006 he was the honoree at the Israeli Independence Day celebration in Los Angeles that drew over 40,000 participants.
Frumkin has been very involved in legislation and campaigns dealing with restitution to Holocaust survivors worldwide. He has interviewed close to a 100 Russian-speaking survivors for the Spielberg Shoah Foundation and has acted as a consultant and witness to California political leaders. The SCCSJ "Graffiti for Intellectuals", a bi-weekly journal of commentary by Frumkin and others was sent to over 1000 opinion makers, political leaders, and influential individuals and organizations worldwide.
Frumkin participated in the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Outreach programs, has gone on international missions to China and Japan for the opening of Holocaust exhibits there and was an active advocate of the campaign to free Jonathan Pollard.
In 1987 Frumkin retired from his business and up until his untimely passing was been devoting his time to public service, lecturing, writing, and whatever else had to be done. He is survived by his two adult sons, four grandchildren, and his wife Ella and two dogs. He is missed very-very much...
Si Frumkin at a Jewish Brigade truck in refugee camp in Italy 1945.
Nuns signing a petition to "Let Jews Go!" in Los Angeles, December 1969.
Meeting Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, Los Angeles 1975.
Picketing Soviet art exhibit at L.A. County Art Museum, 1978.
Dinner at the Reagan White House, 1987.
Si in Israel in 1990.