Professor Benjamin Fain
Born in Kiev in 1930, BENJAMIN FAIN was named after his grandfather who was murdered in the Proskurov pogrom. During World War II, the family was evacuated and wandered from place to place until settling in Dushanbe, where Fain completed school. While studying at the Moscow Power Institute, Fain began to visit the synagogue there. He was deeply impressed by the first Israeli ambassador to the USSR, Golda Meir. In 1950, Fain was accepted to study physics at Gorky University. His mentor was Nobel laureate Vitaly Ginzburg, and he graduated summa cum laude. By 1965, Fain was appointed to be a professor at his alma mater. The scientific books he wrote were translated into English and German. In 1966 he moved back to Moscow, where he worked at the Institute of Solid State Physics and became involved in the Zionist movement. He participated in a refusenik scientific seminar and in the general Samizdat (anti-Communist underground). After applying for an exit visa to Israel in 1974, he was dismissed from his work for political reasons. In 1976, Fain initiated sociological research on Soviet Jewry, attempting to organize an international symposium on the subject. This attempt was foiled by the KGB, who began to follow him. After a period of arrests, searches, interrogations, and a hunger strike, Fain was finally permitted to immigrate to Israel in 1977. During his final period in the USSR, Fain gradually became a Torah-practicing Jew. In Israel, Professor Fain continued to struggle to improve the life of Jews in the Soviet Union. He worked in the School of Chemistry of Tel Aviv University in the fields of quantum electronics, lasers, and condensed matter. Starting from 1998, his interests moved to the philosophy of science and Judaism and their interrelationship. After retirement, Fain wrote his first book in this field, Creation ex Nihilo. Originally in Hebrew, this book was translated into English and Russian. In 2008, Fain completed another book in Hebrew, Law and Providence—Spirit and Matter, Divine Providence and the Laws of Nature, and the Openness of the World to G-d and Man, which was translated into English by Urim Publications and reviewed in B’Or Ha’Torah, volume 21. In 2011, Professor Fain’s third book, The Poverty of Secularism, was published in Hebrew by Mosad Harav Kook. It was translated into English by Urim Publications in 2012.