Eliyahu Fromchenko: The Chocolate Pioneer

Eliyahu Fromchenko (also spelled Frommanchenko) (1886/1888 – 28th of Tishrei, 5722, October 8, 1961) was a Jewish industrialist and the founder of the "Laima" chocolate factory in Latvia, which is today the largest candy factory in the country. He was also one of the founders of the "Elite" chocolate and confectionery company.

Early Life:
Eliyahu was born to Yitzhak Fromchenko in Porhov, a town in the Pskov region of Russia. He married Sarah Hanna, daughter of the Kopylov family. Eliyahu started manufacturing candies in his home in Russia and established his business in 1918.

Due to the Communist Revolution and the ensuing Russian Civil War, he left Russia and moved to Latvia. In 1921, Eliyahu, together with his partners Eliyahu Kopylov and David Mushovich (Mushyov), founded a chocolate production factory.

In 1925, the factory merged with a local chocolate producer, leading to the establishment of the "Laima" company in Riga, the capital of Latvia. By 1930, the factory employed approximately 500 workers and successfully sold its products in the local market and exported to various countries, including France, Britain, Egypt, and Israel.

Move to Israel:
In 1933, following the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany, Eliyahu Fromchenko immigrated to Israel with his family. He brought with him production machinery, chocolate experts, and capital.

In the same year, Fromchenko, Kopylov, and Mushovich purchased land in Ramat Gan, raised additional capital, and embarked on establishing the "Elite" chocolate factory. The factory's location was chosen due to its proximity to Tel Aviv, and the site was outside the city limits to allow for expansion when needed. Production at the factory began in the spring of 1934.

In 1937, Eliyahu Fromchenko and his partners sold their businesses in Latvia. The Latvian government acquired the "Laima" factory from the partners and merged it with a competing chocolate company. Eliyahu Fromchenko founded a candy factory and store in Beer-Sheva, which he successfully sold before the outbreak of the War of Independence.

Contributions and Philanthropy:
Eliyahu Fromchenko decided to establish a housing project for the workers of "Elite" close to the factory. The project included the construction of one hundred apartments, a cooperative grocery store, and a synagogue on a 13-acre plot in the Tel Binyamin neighborhood of Ramat Gan.

In March 1951, the first apartments in the neighborhood were distributed. After the completion of construction, the land was handed over to the existing Yitzhak Fund in Israel. Eliyahu Kopylov, a partner in "Elite" and a resident of Tel Binyamin, donated funds for the establishment of a library in the neighborhood.

In 1954, Eliyahu Fromchenko participated in the establishment of the "Pri-Sukar" (Fruit Sugar) chocolate factory in Givatayim. In 1956, the Fromchenko family founded a fund to assist bereaved families. In Safed, Eliyahu established the "Sha'hal" candy factory. In May 1958, Fromchenko inaugurated a factory for the production of instant coffee in Safed.

That same year, "Elite" acquired the "T.D." confectionery factory in Ramat Gan. Additionally, Fromchenko was involved in the "Freiman" preserved food factory in Ramat Gan and served as its manager.

He was a member of the management of the Industrialists' Association in Israel.

Eliyahu Fromchenko passed away in Tel Aviv in 1961 and was buried in the Nahalat Yitzhak Cemetery. His sons, Yaakov and Abba Fromchenko, assumed control of "Elite." The Fromchenko family honored his memory with a donation of 250,000 Israeli pounds in 1963 for the expansion of the central library in Ramat Gan.

The library moved to its new location on Hovevei Zion Street in 1967 and was named after him. The city of Safed also named a street in his memory. A prize fund in his name was established by the Association of Industrialists for outstanding industrialists.

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