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Leader in the Soviet Jewry movement, Si Frumkin, dies

Si Frumkin, a Dachau survivor who founded the Southern California Council for Soviet Jews, died, according to the LA Times. He was 71.

A man of direct action, Frumkin founded the Southern California Council for Soviet Jews in 1968 and over the next two decades would not leave the issue alone. For years his inventive activism could be found in protests at a variety of Soviet cultural events.

When the Bolshoi Ballet came to town, he distributed fake programs outside the Shrine Auditorium telling folks to enjoy the show but added a message about repression. When Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev visited President Nixon at the Western White House in San Clemente, Frumkin released 5,000 balloons with the message "Let My People Go." He hired a helicopter to fly over the Super Bowl with a banner: "Save Soviet Jewry."

Frumkin, who did more than anyone else in the United States to focus attention on the struggle of Soviet Jews, died Friday of cancer at Providence Tarzana Medical Center. He was 78.

"Shaming the free world, especially our government, into doing the right thing was Si’s cause," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who as a UCLA student founded the California Students for Soviet Jews at the same time Frumkin founded his group.
 

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