Izya SimakovCapture1.JPG



Where is your family from?

My mother, Feiga Simakov (nee Lifshitz) is from Latvia, while my father, Michael Simakov, is from Leningrad. In 1945 our entire extended family
managed to escape the Soviet Union illegally through Germany to Palestine. But because my aunt fell ill and my mother didn’t want to leave her alone, she stayed behind. After the war my father went to Riga, where he met my mother and they married.

In 1957, my aunt was able to travel to Poland, since her husband was a Polish citizen, and from there went to Israel. They began appeal for the reunification of the family, but for thirteen years we were denied exit without any reason.

In 1971 my parents once again went to the visa office and were again refused. In the course of the conversation my mother sharply criticized the officials’ treatment of the family and her general dissatisfaction toward Soviet power as a whole. She was charged with "hooliganism" and arrested for fifteen days. My father remained with my mother while I traveled to Moscow with a group of other refuseniks, where we staged a sit-in hunger strike. There, we were joined by groups of refuseniks from Vilnius and Kaunas. Among us was an English teacher, mother of the famous Ruth A., member of the Leningrad noisy process, who spent a year in prison for possessing a Zionist book. She wrote a letter in English, describing the story of my mother's arrest, and handed it to an American journalist. As a result, foreign media found out about our plight and began to broadcast to the whole world. Under this pressure, the soviets were forced to give us permission to leave, thank G‑d.

Our action triggered the beginning of the first wave of soviet Aliyah to Israel. We were the first conscientious objectors, and the government was not ready for hunger strikes in the Soviet Union. The authorities did not know what to do, so they treated us quite gently. Then, starting from 1976, refuseniks (including Natan Sharansky), were treated more harshly, subjected to persecution and prison.

Tell is a little about your life in Israel.

In 1971, we finally arrived in Israel. I immediately started to learn the language and, as an electronics engineer by trade, I found work as an engineer at a military factory. Today, I have an appliance repair business in Toronto, where we moved in 1986. In 1972, I joined the IDF artillery battalion. In 1973, at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War, I was mobilized and participated in the fighting on the northern front in Syria, where I suffered a concussion. I was decommissioned in 1974, and continued to work at the military factory. In 1982, I participated in the First Lebanon War, fighting against terrorist groups in Lebanon. Subsequently, I was periodically called up as a reserve.

What do you do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?

I love sports, reading and traveling.

If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone, who would you choose?

I would like to talk to Albert Einstein. I like to communicate with smart people and gain wisdom from them, and Einstein is one of the most intelligent men of our time.

What do jRCC programs mean to you and your family?

My favorite program is the annual Simchat Torah celebration, where I
enjoy saying L’Chaim and dancing with the Torah and celebrating with the

What are your future plans?

To be healthy, active, and have nachas from my children and grandchildren.