Shimon Erem, 'Patriarch' of L.A., Dies at 90

By JTA

Published May 30, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Shimon Erem, who fought for Israel in four wars and was recognized as the “patriarch” of the Israeli community in Los Angeles, has died.

Erem died May 27 in Los Angeles after a prolonged struggle with cancer. He was 90 years old.

He was born Shimon Kazarnofsky in Kaunus, Lithuania in 1922 and was three years old when his parents immigrated to Palestine.

Following his 1970 marriage to his second wife Danielle, a Los Angeles resident, Erem moved to the United States and subsequently devoted most of his time and energy to developing Christian support for Israel in America and Europe. He founded the Israel Christian Nexus/Alliance for Jerusalem which honored him on his birthday last year.

During World War II, Erem joined the Jewish Brigade of the British army and was decorated four times for bravery under fire. Stationed in Italy at the end of the war, he took a leading role in underground operations, which included hunting down prominent Nazis and smuggling refugees and arms into Palestine.

With the outbreak of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion asked Erem to help organize the first Officers School for the nation’s armed forces.

He also fought as a battalion commander at Latrun to open the road to Jerusalem and against Egyptian forces in the south and was wounded on both fronts.

Subsequently, Erem led troops as brigade commander in the Sinai campaign of 1956, as commander of Special Forces in the Six Day War of 1967, and returned to Israel to serve in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

He received numerous citations and decorations throughout his military career and retired from the Israeli army with the rank of brigadier general.

In Los Angeles, Erem worked as an independent property manager, according to his wife of 41 years, but spent the bulk of his time and energy as a volunteer advocate for Israel and the Jewish community.

Early on, he assumed leadership positions, on a local and national level, for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and served as head of the Center for Strategic Studies West.

Recognizing the vital role the Christian community, particularly evangelical Christians, could play in mobilizing support for Israel, Erem came to focus his major effort in serving as the unofficial Israeli ambassador to the Christian world.He organized mass rallies of thousands of pro-Israel Christians, who signed pledges to oppose anti-Semitism, and huge receptions for visiting Israeli leaders.

He founded the Israel Christian Nexus in 2002, which, in a mission statement, cited as a key goal to alert the democracies “to the worldwide threat posed by fundamentalist Islam to our shared Judeo-Christian values.”

A longtime friend, Haim Linder, recalled attending one meeting in which Erem stood up and declared, “Every morning when I get up, the first thing I ask myself, ‘What can I do to help Israel today?’”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.