EHRLICH, SIMḤA (1915–1983), Israeli politician, leader of the Liberal Party, and first non-Labor minister of finance, member of the Seventh to Tenth Knessets. Ehrlich was born in Poland. He studied at the Hebrew Gymnasium in Lublin and was active in the General Zionist youth movement prior to his immigration to Israel in 1938. In Israel he worked at first as an agricultural laborer in Nes Ẓiyyonah. Ehrlich studied optics and in 1961 established a firm for the manufacture of lenses and applied optical instruments. He joined the General Zionist Party and was elected to the Tel Aviv Municipal Council in 1955, serving as deputy mayor in 1962–65. In 1965 he ran in the municipal elections at the head of the *Gaḥal list. In 1969 he ran for the Seventh Knesset on the Gaḥal list.
In 1970, Ehrlich was appointed chairman of the Liberal Party Executive, and after the founding of the *Likud in 1973 he became a member of its Executive. In June 1977 he was appointed by Menaḥem *Begin as minister of finance, in which position he introduced a policy of economic liberalization, first of all in the field of foreign currency. However, his policy resulted in a serious deterioration in Israel's balance of trade and a rapid rise in the rate of inflation. As a result he was forced to resign in October 1979, remaining in the government as deputy prime minister. In Begin's second government formed after the elections to the Tenth Knesset, Ehrlich served as minister of agriculture and deputy prime minister.
Y. Ben Porat, Siḥot (1981).
[Fern Lee Seckbach /
Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]