Si was the initial organizer and founding national chair of the Jewish Fund for Justice – now Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice — a national Jewish foundation that supports local community organizing projects dealing with the root causes of poverty. He is a past board member of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.
Si served in the U.S. Army Reserves during the Vietnam era (1965-1971). As a member of the 317th Military History Detachment, he co-wrote the official U.S. Army histories of Fort McPherson, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and of the XVIII Airborne Corps in World War II. In 1970, in recognition of his community organizing work with poor people in North Georgia and other areas of the South, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recognized him with one of six “Georgia Soldier of the Year” awards.
Si Kahn received his A.B. degree magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1965. He left school twice during his Harvard career: once to write and translate poetry in Spain, a second time to work with SNCC during the Southern Civil Rights Movement. His senior thesis on the 12th century Provencal troubadour (that is, folksinger) William IX of Aquitaine won the Susan Anthony Potter Prize in Comparative Literature.
Thirty years later, in 1995, Si received his Ph.D. in American Studies with a specialization in Cultural Studies from The Graduate College for Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences of The Union Institute. His doctoral project Habits of Resistance: Cultural Work and Community Organizing is published by University Microfilms. In 1999 the University of New England awarded him an honorary Doctor of Health Services degree.
Elizabeth Minnich and Si Kahn have three adult children, Simon, Jesse and Gabe, and three grandchildren, Anson, Zach and Benjamin, the latter named after Si’s father, Rabbi Benjamin Kahn, who was the Hillel rabbi at Penn State during the great football years. Gabe carries on the family musical tradition as a hip-hop music producer. He and Si will release their first joint CD in 2015.