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March 4, 2012 6:09 am

Jewish-Iranian Leader, Holocaust Hero Dies in California

avatar by Shahrouz Khalifian

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Ebrahim Yahid. Photo: the Jewish Journal.

Ebrahim Yahid, a major advocate for Israel and a highly influential leader in the Jewish-Iranian community in Southern California, died last week at the age of 90 after a long battle with illnesses, the Jewish Journal reported.

Yahid, who died on Feb. 22nd, was an Iranian-born volunteer for the British army during World War II. He was born in 1921 in Isfahan, Iran, and at just over 20 years old, he volunteered for the British army based in Iran, eventually ascending to the rank of second lieutenant.

He also served as a leading member of the Jewish Brigade, assisting in the escape of Jewish soldiers in Poland and various areas of the Soviet Union on Iranian oil ships going to Israel.

Yahid was among a group of Iranian Jews who worked to relocate Jewish orphans that had fled Poland to escape the Nazis. These children were evacuated to Israel through Iran, and later came to be known as the “Tehran Children,” named after the capital of Iran.

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As a liason between Israeli ambassador to Iran, Meir Ezri, and the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Yahid spent much of the 1950s helping Iraqi Jews find ways to resettle in Israel. He spent 20 years in that position trying to build a strong relationship between Iran and Israel. He campaigned vigorously to raise money in Iran on behalf of the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency. Yahid was also at the forefront of efforts to establish strong trade opportunities between Iran and Israel.

However, in 1979, the Iranian Revolution dispelled Yahid’s hopes for an Iranian-Israeli alliance, and he soon fled alongside thousands of other Iranians to the United States.

Yahid settled in Beverly Hills in the swelling Jewish-Iranian community fleeing from the turmoil in their homeland. He devoted much of his life to serving the Jewish community in Southern California, helping found both the Iranian-American Jewish Federation and Nessah Synagogue, one of the biggest shuls in Beverly Hills. He also established various non-profit groups in Israel, such as one that helped Iranian Jews visit Jerusalem.

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