Benjamin Fain

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Benjamin Fain
Вениамин Файн
Benjamin Fain.jpg
Benjamin Fain
Born(1930-02-17)February 17, 1930
Kiev, Ukraine, USSR
Died April 15, 2013(2013-04-15) (aged 83)
Residence Israel
Nationality Israel
Citizenship Israel
Alma mater Gorky University
Known for physicist, dissident, refusenik, author.
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Institutions Tel Aviv University
Influenced Vitaly Ginzburg

Benjamin Fain (Russian : Вениамин Моисеевич Файн, Hebrew : בנימין פיין) (February 17, 1930 – April 15, 2013) was an Israeli physicist, professor-emeritus, and former refusenik.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although, nowadays, nearly three decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia, the rise of state-specific varieties of this language tends to be strongly denied in Russia, in line with the Russian World ideology.

Hebrew language Semitic language native to Israel

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel; the modern version of which is spoken by over 9 million people worldwide. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name Hebrew in the Tanakh. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only living Canaanite language left, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.

Refusenik unofficial term for individuals, typically but not exclusively Soviet Jews, who were denied permission to emigrate by the authorities of the former Soviet Union and other countries of the Eastern bloc

Refusenik was an unofficial term for individuals, typically, but not exclusively, Soviet Jews, who were denied permission to emigrate, primarily to Israel, by the authorities of the Soviet Union and other countries of the Eastern bloc. The term refusenik is derived from the "refusal" handed down to a prospective emigrant from the Soviet authorities.



Fain was born to a Jewish family in Kiev. His father was a mathematician. He instilled in the child a love for science as well as a strong national sentiment. [1]

Jews ancient nation and ethnoreligious group from the Levant

Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.

Kiev City with special status in Kiev City Municipality, Ukraine

Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine, located in the north-central part of the country on the Dnieper. The population in July 2015 was 2,887,974, making Kiev the 7th most populous city in Europe.

Benjamin Fain was named after his grandfather, who was murdered in the Proskurov pogrom. During the Second World War the family was evacuated and changed location several times. After the end of the war the family stayed in Dushanbe, where Fain graduated from school. He became a student in the Moscow Institute of Energetics. During his first year in Moscow he visited synagogue and attempted to learn the Hebrew and Yiddish languages. Fain was strongly impressed by the historical visit of the first Israeli ambassador to USSR, Golda Meir. Fain managed to transfer in 1950 to the Faculty of physics in Gorky University. He graduated there summa cum laude. His instructor was future Nobel prize winner Vitaly Ginzburg.

Proskurov pogrom massacre of Jews at the town of Proskurov (present-day Khmelnytskyi) in Ukraine on 15 February 1919

The Proskurov pogrom took place on 15 February 1919 in the town of Proskurov during the Ukraine Civil War, which was taken over from under the Bolshevik control by the Haidamacks. In mere three and a half hours at least 1,500 Jews were murdered, up to 1,700 by other estimates, and more than 1,000 wounded including women, children and the old. The massacre was carried out by Ukrainian People's Republic soldiers of Ivan Samosenko. They were ordered to save the ammunition in the process and use only lances and bayonets.

Dushanbe Place in Tajikistan

Dushanbe is the capital and largest city of Tajikistan. Dushanbe means Monday in the Tajik language, the local language is Parya language. It was named this way because it grew from a village that originally had a popular market on Mondays. As of 2016, Dushanbe had a population of 802,700.

Moscow Power Engineering Institute university

Moscow Power Engineering Institute is one of the largest institutions of its kind, and is one of the leading technical universities in the world in the area of power engineering, electronics and IT. It is located in Moscow, Russia, and was founded in 1930. In Russian Federation the education in universities is available in Russian medium only. Therefore, before the main education courses would start, the foreign applicants to university courses should pass the Preliminary course for training in Russian language, followed by the State Test in Russian language. Fifteen years ago MPEI launched the program of education for foreign students in English medium, however in only one specialty – Computer Engineering. MPEI invested considerate time and resources into this program, they selected a group of leading professors who spoke English fluently, who in turn prepared the educational materials in English. Now MPEI accepts annually one full group of foreign students who speak English fluently for this IT educational program in English Language. All classes here are provided in English, hence the students in this program do not require the preliminary training in Russian language, i.e. the educational period becomes one year shorter. The annual tuition fee for this program however is more expensive, since this program is conducted in English, unlike the rest of the programs.

Academic career

Fain successfully started his scientific career, and already in 1965 became a professor in his alma mater. He wrote several scientific books translated into English and German. [2] [3] [4] In 1966 he moved to Moscow and started successful work in the Institute of Solid State Physics in Chernogolovka.

Alma mater school or university that a person has attended

Alma mater is an allegorical Latin phrase for a university, school, or college that one formerly attended. The phrase is variously translated as "nourishing mother", "nursing mother", or "fostering mother", suggesting that a school provides intellectual nourishment to its students. Fine arts will often depict educational institutions using a robed woman as a visual metaphor.

English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Benjamin Fain on the right side, Andrei Sakharov -- on the left side. Unofficial seminar of scientists-refuseniks, April 1977. Seminar of scientists refuseniks.jpg
Benjamin Fain on the right side, Andrei Sakharov — on the left side. Unofficial seminar of scientists-refuseniks, April 1977.

Starting from 1972 Fain gradually started to participate in a Zionist movement. He took part in refusenik scientific seminar, and also in Samizdat. [5] He applied for exit visa to Israel in 1974 and became a refusenik. He also became unemployed after dismissal from his work on political grounds.

Zionism Movement that supports the creation of a Jewish homeland

Zionism is the Ethnic nationalist movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel. Modern Zionism emerged in the late 19th century in Central and Eastern Europe as a national revival movement, both in reaction to newer waves of antisemitism and as an imitative response to other nationalist movements. Soon after this, most leaders of the movement associated the main goal with creating the desired state in Palestine, then an area controlled by the Ottoman Empire.

Samizdat key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored and underground publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader

Samizdat was a form of dissident activity across the Eastern Bloc in which individuals reproduced censored and underground publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader. This grassroots practice to evade official Soviet censorship was fraught with danger, as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials. Vladimir Bukovsky summarized it as follows: "Samizdat: I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend jail time for it myself."

Israel country in the Middle East

Israel, officially the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition.

Sociological research of Soviet Jewry

In 1976 Fain initiated a sociological research on Soviet Jewry. An attempt to organize an international symposium on the subject was foiled by the KGB, [6] which closely watched all his steps from then on. At the same period Fain gradually started practicing Judaism. After several arrests, searches, interrogations and a hunger strike Fain finally arrived in Israel in 1977.

The history of the Jews in the Soviet Union is inextricably linked to much earlier expansionist policies of the Russian Empire conquering and ruling the eastern half of the European continent already before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. "For two centuries – wrote Zvi Gitelman – millions of Jews had lived under one entity, the Russian Empire and [its successor state] the USSR. They had now come under the jurisdiction of fifteen states, some of which had never existed and others that had passed out of existence in 1939." Before the revolutions of 1989 which resulted in the end of communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, a number of these now sovereign countries constituted the component republics of the Soviet Union.

KGB main security agency for the Soviet Union

The KGB, translated in English as Committee for State Security, was the main security agency for the Soviet Union from 1954 until its break-up in 1991. As a direct successor of preceding agencies such as Cheka, NKGB, NKVD and MGB, the committee was attached to the Council of Ministers. It was the chief government agency of "union-republican jurisdiction", acting as internal security, intelligence and secret police. Similar agencies were constituted in each of the republics of the Soviet Union aside from Russia, and consisted of many ministries, state committees and state commissions.

Judaism ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text

Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text. It encompasses the religion, philosophy, and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. Judaism encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.

Fain published his study on Jewish identity of Soviet Jews with the American sociologist Mervin Verbit. Fain and Verbit published their findings in 1984 through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. [7]

In Israel

He continued to struggle to improve the life of Soviet Jews and also continued his scientific work in Tel Aviv University in the fields of quantum electronics, lasers and condensed matter. [8]

Starting from 1998 his field of interest moved to the philosophy of science and Judaism and the interrelation between them. After retirement Fain wrote his first philosophic book in Hebrew: "Creation Ex Nihilo", where he analyzes the relationship between religion and science. [9] It was published in Hebrew as well as in English and Russian translations. The Russian version of the book also has an autobiographic part to it.

In 2008 Fain completed another book in Hebrew: "Law and Providence". [10] It was published in 2011 in English by Urim Publications. In January 2011 Fain's third book Hebrew : «דלות הכפירה» («Dalut Ha'kfira» («The Poverty of Secularism») was published by Hebrew : Mosad Ha'rav Kook .


Fain is the father of two sons and one daughter.


  1. "Creation Ex Nihilo", part 2 of Russian version
  2. "Fain: Quantum Electronics".
  3. "Quantenelektronik: Physik der Maser und Laser".
  4. Books by Benjamin Fain, Books by B. Fain
  5. Матвей Членов. "ЕВРЕЙСКИЙ САМИЗДАТ В СОВЕТСКОМ СОЮЗЕ", 1970-Е — 1980-Е ГОДЫ Archived December 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine .: В 1975 году, за год до симпозиума, по инициативе В.Файна и Престина начинает издаваться журнал "Тарбут"
  6. "Сегодня рождается из вчера." Иосиф Бегун. К истории еврейской общины в Москве
  7. Fain, B., & Verbit, M. F. (1984). Jewishness in the Soviet Union: Report of an Empirical Survey. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
  8. Benjamin Fain, Professor Emeritus
  9. "Creation Ex Nihilo : Thoughts on Science, Divine Providence, Free Will, and Faith in the Perspective of My Own Experiences". 20 July 2007.
  10. Hebrew : חוק והשגחה. הוצאת מכון הספרים הר ברכה תשס"ט


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