Slonim was noted attorney, lifelong Zionist advocate

Arthur H. Slonim, a noted local attorney who specialized in real estate law, and a lifelong and passionate Zionist and advocate for the State of Israel, died Sunday, April 18, 2010, after a brief illness. He was 84 and a longtime resident of Olivette.

Like his parents, the late Moses Joshua (M.J.) and Sophia Slonim, Mr. Slonim was a lifelong Zionist. The elder Mr. Slonim, who was also a real estate attorney, was the longtime head of the St. Louis Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America and the founding president of the St. Louis Regional Chapter of the American Jewish Congress. Arthur Slonim, whose middle name was Herzl, after the founder of modern practical Zionism Theodor Herzl, was chair of the Israel Committee of the local American Jewish Congress Board on which he served for many years until his passing.

Attorney Jay B. Umansky, president of the St. Louis Region and Chapter of the American Jewish Congress said, “It is with the greatest of sadness that I learned of the death of our friend and fellow board member Art Slonim. Art was always available to assist with the American Jewish Congress’s GOALS program or anything else conncected with the American Jewish Congress. He will be missed. May his name forever be a blessing.”

Mr. Slonim’s life, career and activities on behalf of Jewish and other causes were fondly remembered at the funeral service last week at Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery, where Rabbi Mark Fasman of Congregation Shaare Zedek officiated. “It was fitting, somehow, that Arthur Slonim passed away during the period of Yom Ha’Atzmaut, the Independence Day of the State of Israel, which he so strongly supported during his lifetime.”

Mr. Slonim’s son, Richard Slonim of St. Louis, said, “Dad was really a deep-thinking and philosophical person in addition to his love of sports. He had a breadth and depth to his character and a broad range of qualities. He was an expert not only on Israel, but on the entire history of the Middle East and all its nations, and also loved the English language and poetry. He loved to write beautiful poems as well as the joy of reading poems and all great literature.”

Fellow attorney Sylvan H. Robinson, a friend since kindergarten of Mr. Slonim’s, offered his own remembrances at the funeral service. “When a friend dies it is always a sad time. But when one loses his oldest and best friend, it is an even more powerful and profound loss. Art and I grew up together — in kindergarten, at Delmar Harvard Elementary School, Ward Junior High School, University City High School, Washington U. and Washington U. law school, from which we both graduated in 1945. We used to joke that we both graduated Harvard, (Delmar Harvard grade school) at the age of 12!”

At the law school, Mr. Slonim was editor of The Law Review and was inducted into the Order of the Coif for outstanding academic achievement.

Robinson recalled, “At U. City, Art played Varsity baseball, and at Washington U. he was the catcher and I was the pitcher, making the first all-Zionist Battery in university history. As kids Art and I played kick the can, Indian ball, corkball, softball, baseball and basketball. When we played against the University of Missouri at Columbia, Art was beaned by a pitched ball while at bat, and was taken to a hospital. I joked that his ‘hard-headedness’ helped him survive the blow.

“As an attorney, Art Slonim had a sharp intellect, a sagacious wisdom and was an unremitting advocate for his clients. We knew each other almost 80 years. Although we never practiced law together, we often consulted each other on legal matters and cases. Art specialized in real estate law, following his late Dad’s expertise in real estate appraising,” Robinson said.

Robinson added that following the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, Mr. Slonim joined the Judge Advocates General in the U.S. Air Force. He was married to the former Marcia Fuhrer on Dec. 18, 1949, when Rabbi Samuel Thurman of United Hebrew and Rabbi Jacob R. Mazur of Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel co-officiated. The Slonims were members for many years of Kol Katan, a local chavurah and discussion group, which identified itself for a time as a synagogue.

Robinson said that to him, Mr. Slonim symbolized “a famous quote of Winston Churchill: ‘You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.'”

In his remarks, Rabbi Fasman noted, “Arthur Herzl Slonim was born in St. Louis on June 21, 1927, the son of M. J. and Sophia Gollin Slonim…At the time of his birth, Calvin Coolidge was in the White House and Jewish immigration to then Palestine had slowed down. Only 2,700 Jews arrived, while some 5,000 Jews had left. Zionist pioneer Ze’ev Jabotinsky remarked, that the ‘galus’ (Diaspora) has weakened our body. The Zionist ideal was to perfect both the mind and the body. Art Slonim had a terrific mind and excelled in sports.”

Mr. Slonim is survived by his wife, Marcia Slonim, of Olivette and son, Richard (Charlotte) Slonim of St. Louis.

Graveside services were held at Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery, 9125 Ladue Road.