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!
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • 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.