Born into a family of industrialists, Sam Zarfin grows up in Smilovitchi, region of Minsk.
In 1913, Zarfin enters the Beaux-Arts of Vilno and writes poems.
In 1914, carried away by the Zionist wave, he leaves his country, his family that he will never see anymore and goes to Palestine where, as a pioneer, he dries up swamps, cultivates the soil and becomes a student at the Beaux-Arts of Bezalel.
In 1918, he fights by the side of the British army for the liberation of the country. At that time he does a lot of sketches. Demobilized on the 17th of September, 1920, he takes part in an exhibition organized by the governor of Jerusalem.
In 1923, he goes to Berlin, exhibits at the Secession and earns his living with his illustrations.
In 1924, he permanently settles in Paris and meets up again with Soutine who is native of the same city as him. He often goes to the museums and destroys all his previous works. In 1925, he works as a manufacturer of lattice-work shoes and as a painter on fabrics. He gets married in 1929 and keeps working on fabrics.
In 1931, Sam Zarfin is granted French citizenship. In 1933, his daughter Liliane is born.
In 1931, he is mobilized by the French Army.
In 1940, he meets up again with his wife and daughter who have taken refuge in Brive-la-Gaillarde. An album of sketches that he has executed during his mobilization is acquired by the French State.
In 1941, the Zarfin family takes refuge in unoccupied France, in Lyon. From there, he goes to Grenoble, his room becomes a meeting point of the French Resistance. His daughter is shielded from the Nazi persecutions inside the convent of Marie de l’Immaculée Conception. Zarfin keeps painting and takes refuge in the mountains.
At the Liberation, the family goes back to Grenoble where a particular exhibition is dedicated to him. The paintings that he has left into his Parisian atelier have been looted.
In 1947, he settles in Rosny-sous-bois where he dies in 1975.