David Azrieli

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David Joshua Azrieli
David Azrieli.jpg
Azrieli in 2008
Born (1922-05-10)May 10, 1922
Maków Mazowiecki, Poland
Died July 9, 2014(2014-07-09) (aged 92)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Residence Westmount, Quebec, Canada
Ethnicity Jewish
Alma mater

Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (B.A./B.Sc.)

Carleton University (M.Sc.)[1]
Occupation Real estate developer, architect and philanthropist
Net worth Steady $3.1 billion (March 2013)[1]
Spouse(s) Stephanie Lefcourt
Children Rafael Azrieli
Sharon Azrieli
Naomi Azrieli
Danna Azrieli
Awards Order of Canada
National Order of Quebec

David Joshua Azrieli, CM CQ (Hebrew: דוד עזריאלי‎; May 10, 1922 – July 9, 2014) was a Canadian-Israeli real estate tycoon, developer, designer, architect, and philanthropist. With an estimated net worth of $US 3.1 billion (as of March 2013), Azrieli was ranked by Forbes as the 9th wealthiest Canadian and 401st in the world.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

David Azrieli was born into a Jewish family[2] in Maków Mazowiecki, Poland, he fled Europe during World War II for British Mandate Palestine. Between 1943 and 1946, Azrieli briefly studied architecture at the Technion, though did not complete his studies at that time. He fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1954, he immigrated to Montreal.[3]

At the age of 75, he received his master's degree in architecture from Carleton University.[3]


In Montreal, he established his building business, beginning with the construction of small duplexes and working his way up to apartment buildings and, later on, shopping malls. This business is now called Canpro Investments. Azrieli's building projects can be seen in the office buildings, high-rise residences, office towers and shopping centres he has built in Canada, the United States and Israel. His two companies are Montreal-based Canpro Investments Ltd. and Tel-Aviv-based Canit Investment, Management and Finance Ltd.[4][5]

Azrieli built a number of Israeli commercial centres including the Jerusalem Shopping Mall in Malha, Jerusalem, Kanion ha-Negev in Beersheba and the eponymous Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv, the largest real estate project in Israel, including three skyscrapers in the heart of Tel Aviv, which has become an architectural landmark at the core of Israel's business activities.


Van Horne Mansion[edit]

In 1969, the heirs of Canadian railway magnate William Cornelius Van Horne put up for sale the Van Horne Mansion in Montreal, Canada. A buyer was not found until 1973, when developer David Azrieli bought the land. His intention to raze the mansion was met with fierce opposition from many groups opposed to the demolition spree of the Golden Square Mile, including Rene Lepine, another big-time real estate developer who owned the building next to the Van Horne Mansion and who wanted to buy it back from Azrieli to restore the mansion instead of developing the land. However, Mr. Azrieli remained committed to demolishing the historic landmark, and, during the early morning hours of September 8, 1973, under the cover of darkness, he had the mansion demolished by bulldozers. Montreal residents woke the following morning to a pile of rubble where once stood the proud home.[6] The Sofitel Montreal now stands on the property which is the building Azrieli built.

As a direct result of this action, the group Save Montreal was formed to organise resistance to future demolitions.[7]

Donation to Im Tirtzu movement[edit]

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that "What you won’t find on either the [Azrieli] foundation’s or company’s websites is that in 2010 the Azrieli Group apparently donated NIS 30,000 to Im Tirtzu" even though the Azrieli group "claims it has no political agenda." [8] The donation was made specifically "to a project to stop the academic boycott of Israel."[8] Haaretz continues saying that "in the past two years, hardly a week has gone by without the [Im Tirtzu] organization appearing in the headlines − often in controversial contexts."[8]


The Azrieli Foundation was established by David Azrieli in 1989 to support initiatives and develop and operate programs that promote access to education and the achievement of excellence in various fields of knowledge and activity.

The Azrieli Foundation[edit]

  • generously supports undergraduate and graduate students through various university-based scholarships and fellowships
  • promotes excellence in architecture and architectural education
  • supports scientific and medical research and education
  • empowers high-school students through programs aimed at lowering the drop-out rate
  • supports vibrant and sustainable Jewish communities by promoting Jewish educational institutions and opportunities
  • promotes access to and excellence in Holocaust education and research, and aims to expand Holocaust commemoration
  • supports educational programmes devoted to outreach among inter-married families and their children
  • promotes quality of life and continuing education for adults with developmental disabilities
  • supports excellence and education in music and the arts.

Programs and initiatives funded by the Azrieli Foundation are located in Canada, Israel and the United States.

In addition to the many traditional and innovative charitable programs that receive financial support, the Azrieli Foundation has established and operates:

The Azrieli Fellows Program: promoting academic excellence and leadership in graduate studies at Israeli universities, in the fields of Interdisciplinary & Applied Sciences, Education, and Architecture & Urban Planning.

The Azrieli Foundation Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program: collects, edits, publishes and distributes the written memoirs and diaries of Holocaust survivors who made their way to Canada. The books are published under the imprint “The Azrieli Series of Holocaust Survivor Memoirs.” In 2007, the Foundation launched the first series of seven memoirs in events in Montreal and Toronto with guest speakers Simone Veil and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The memoirs will be made available for free to public libraries across Canada, Holocaust organizations worldwide, and other interested readers. The memoirs will also appear online by the summer of 2008. [9]

The Azrieli Institute for Educational Empowerment: A program aimed at empowering Israeli youth-at-risk and encouraging them to stay in school by closing educational gaps, instilling social skills and providing parents with tools for improving family relationships.

David Azrieli Established the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University in New York City.

An endowment from David Azrieli helped establish the David J. Azrieli Institute of Graduate Studies and Research in Architecture at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2004.

Personal life[edit]

In 1957, he married Stephanie Lefcourt. They have four children: Rafael, Sharon, Naomi and Danna.[10] Azrieli and his wife resided in Herzliya, Israel, for 5 months per year, and in Westmount, Quebec for the rest of the year. He died on July 9, 2014 in Montreal, aged 92.[11]



  • Azrieli, David J. (2008). Rekindling the Torch: Story of Canadian Zionism. Toronto: Key Porter Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-55263-977-1. 


External links[edit]