LONDON—Alex Faiman's career in B'nai B'rith has taken him around the world, from Australia to London. He was born in Shanghai, China. A legendary leader as a B’nai B’rith Europe board member, Alex recently celebrated his 87th birthday in London. His vast contributions have supported survivors and breathed life into Jewish communities in eastern Ukraine, an effort that continues today through B'nai B'rith United Kingdom.
A child of parents born in Eastern Europe, Alex has always had a warm place in his life for helping Eastern European Jews live better lives in the face of adversity.
His father Julius was born in Astrakhan at the River Delta where the Volga meets the Caspian Sea. Julius was in the caviar business and was permitted to live outside the Pale of Settlement. During the Russian Revolution of 1917, the family decided to leave that country. This had to be done fast and illegally.
With the borders officially closed, Julius traveled to Vladivostok and then to Harbin in Northeast China, where he met his future wife, Lucienne, a Jew of Russian descent. They had one son, Alex, born in 1933.
When Alex was 2 years old, his parents moved to a larger Russian Jewish Community, still in China. Alex's multilingual talents have given him many skills to serve humanity. He speaks perfect Russian, Mandarin, Yiddish and English.
During World War II and the Holocaust, the family lived under Japanese occupation. Liberated by the Russian Army in 1945 and further aided by the Chinese Army, the family decided to move to Sydney, Australia, in 1951. Alex, then 18, would spend more than 30 years in Australia, working in the publishing trade.
In 1972, he visited Great Britain and met his future wife, Audrey. They returned to Australia, married and joined B’nai B’rith. In 1985, the Faimans moved to London, where they continued their dedicated work with B’nai B’rith. Alex was the vice president of the First Lodge of England in 1986.
His major concern was to take care of the Russian-Jewish refugees. He then became the president of the Leo Baeck Lodge for many years, a member of the International Division of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the special representative of the chairman of the International Division to the European Jewish Congress.
Alex established a soup kitchen in Lviv. He also drove the effort in Lviv to establish a medical center and a program to help elderly people, particularly Holocaust survivors and including Righteous Gentiles, with daily needs such as laundry or shopping and just financial support.
He also worked to support a kindergarten in Lviv with 24 preschool children. "Alex is a man of doing things and not of just talking,” said Simone and Ralph Hofmann, former B’nai B’rith Europe president. “In his most active years, he was happiest when he saw children singing in the Jewish kindergarten he fought to establish. His passion for B’nai B’rith is a shining example to us all. Alex with his 'hands on' mentality made dreams come true for our brothers and sisters in Eastern Europe. One cannot praise him enough for what he has done.”
B'nai B'rith International has served as the Global Voice of the Jewish Community since 1843.