Iosif Faigenboim was born in 1922 in the shtetl of Dunaievtsy, in western Ukraine. His father Aharon was a member of a Jewish agricultural kommuna, established in the area with aid from the American Jewish Distribution Committee. The JDC provided the kommuna with agricultural machinery, and Aharon became a tractor-driver. The venture proved to be successful. In the late 1920s, Aharon fulfilled administrative duties. In the early 1930s, the family settled in the town of Kamenets-Podolskii. In 1939, after the Soviet annexation of eastern Poland, he moved to Lvov, where the family was living at when the Soviet-German war began.
As an administrator sent from the original Soviet territories, Aharon Faigenboim succeeded in getting his family evacuated from Lvov. The evacuation train arrived in Poltava, east of Kiev. Iosif was drafted to repair airplanes, while the rest of the family, including his three younger brothers, continued their way eastward. When the enemy approached Poltava in September 1941, the aviation workshops were evacuated to western Siberia and, as an electrical technician for aircraft, Iosif Faigenboim was evacuated with them. He remembers this period as one of constant hunger. When the local conscription office reported a need for three technicians, Iosif was drafted into active service as a private.
Faigenboim was assigned to the 116th Tank Brigade. His baptism by fire took place near Voronezh, which, in June-July 1942, was surrounded by the German and Hungarian armies. The 116th Brigade was encircled by the enemy and destroyed. Only a few of its men succeeded in breaking out of the encirclement. Of the whole column to which Faigenboim belonged, only fifteen men did so, with only three of them reaching Red Army positions. (The rest of the men deserted).
After this episode Faigenboim served as a technician for telephone communication. Although communications is a branch of army in which the soldier only rarely shoots at the enemy, he constantly risks his life, with his usual mission being to maintain communication lines under enemy fire. Nevertheless, Iosif Faigenboim survived without serious injury, serving in southern Russia and in Ukraine, and ending the war in Germany. Although he was not promoted higher than corporal, he was awarded the Order of Glory, 3rd Class.
After the war Faigenboim worked as an electrician. In 1974, he left the USSR for Israel.