David Azrieli

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David Joshua Azrieli
Mr. David Azrieli.jpg
Born(1922-05-10)May 10, 1922
DiedJuly 9, 2014(2014-07-09) (aged 92)
Alma materThomas More Institute (B.A.)
Carleton University (M.Arch.)
Occupation(s)Real estate developer, architect and philanthropist
SpouseStephanie Lefcort
ChildrenRafael Azrieli
Sharon Azrieli
Naomi Azrieli
Danna Azrieli
AwardsOrder of Canada
National Order of Quebec

David Joshua Azrieli, CM CQ (Hebrew: דוד יהושע עזריאלי; 10 May 1922 – 9 July 2014) was an Israeli-Canadian real estate tycoon, developer, designer, architect, and philanthropist.[1][2] With an estimated net worth of US$3.1 billion as of March 2013, Azrieli was ranked by Forbes as the ninth wealthiest Canadian and 401st in the world.[3]

Azrieli established the Azrieli Foundation in 1989, and on his passing, bequeathed the bulk of his estate to the Foundation.


David Azrieli was born in 1922[4] into a Jewish family in Maków Mazowiecki, Poland.[5] He fled Poland for the USSR early in World War II and eventually made it to British Mandate Palestine in late 1942.[6] He was smuggled along with a shipment of arms.[6] Except for Azrieli and a brother, his entire family perished during the Holocaust.[6]

Between 1943 and 1946, Azrieli studied architecture at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, but did not complete his studies at that time. He fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1954, he immigrated to Montreal, Quebec.[7]

He completed a Bachelor of Arts at the Thomas More Institute in Montreal (now part of Bishop's University) in 1956. At the age of 75, he earned a Master of Architecture degree from Carleton University.[7]

In 1957, he married Stephanie Lefcort. They have four children: Rafael, Sharon, Naomi and Danna.[8] For the last 10 years of his life, Azrieli and his wife resided in Herzliya, Israel, for five months per year, and in Westmount, Quebec for the rest of the year. He died on 9 July 2014 at his lake house in Ivry-sur-le-Lac, Quebec, aged 92.[9]

Business career[edit]

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. Azrieli's building projects can be seen in the office buildings, high-rise residences, office towers and shopping centres he built in Canada, the United States and Israel. His two companies are Montreal-based Canpro Investments Ltd. and Tel Aviv-based Azrieli Group Ltd.[10][11]

In 2010, he took the Azrieli Group public in the largest ever IPO on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.[12] It is now the largest real estate company in the country.[13] Its projects include a number of Israeli commercial centres, including the first enclosed mall in Israel – the Canion Ayalon in Ramat Gan –  as well as the Jerusalem Shopping Mall (Canion Yerushalayim) in Malha, Jerusalem, the Beer Sheva Shopping Mall (Canion ha-Negev), Beersheba. He also built the eponymous Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv, the largest real estate project in Israel, which includes three skyscrapers in the heart of Tel Aviv and has become an architectural landmark at the core of Israel's business activities.[14]


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.[15][16]

Azrieli's early philanthropy established the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University in New York City and supported schools and educational institutions in Canada and Israel. His aim to support education in multiple and diverse ways guides the Azrieli Foundation to this day. The Foundation has disbursed over CAD $450 million since 1989. Notable donations in that time include: the Azrieli Schools of Architecture at Tel Aviv University and Carleton University; the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine at Bar Ilan University, the creation of the Azrieli Institute for Educational Empowerment, Azrieli Institute for Systems Biology at Weizmann Institute of Science, Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies at Concordia University, and the School of Continuing Studies at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

In 2020 the Azrieli Foundation created an emergency fund to be allocated to meet urgent needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.[17] As of 1 October 2020, the Foundation pledged CAD $8.6 million for pandemic-related initiatives, including food relief, hospitals and long-term care institutions and support for the vulnerable including Holocaust survivors, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and students.


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, Quebec, 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, Azrieli remained committed to demolishing the historic landmark and did so on 8 September 1973.[18] 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 organize resistance to future demolitions.[19]

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 (CAD $10,000) to Im Tirtzu" even though the Azrieli group "claims it has no political agenda."[20] The donation was made specifically "to a project to stop the academic boycott of Israel."[20]

Sculpture of David Azrieli, sculptor: Asaf Lifshitz

Awards and recognition[edit]

Published works[edit]

  • Azrieli, Danna J.: One step ahead : David J. Azrieli (Azrylewicz) : memoirs 1939-1950. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 2001.
  • Azrieli, David J. (2008). Rekindling the Torch: Story of Canadian Zionism. Toronto: Key Porter Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-55263-977-1.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Francis, Diane (8 August 2010). "David Azrieli, a master at beating adversity". Financial Post. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  2. ^ "Interview: David Azrieli". Hadassah Magazine. 2009-08-23. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  3. ^ Forbes: The World's Billionaires: David Azrieli March 2013
  4. ^ "The Azrieli family | Transforming two homelands through philanthropy, education". WeizmannCompass. 2018-10-16. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  5. ^ "6 Canadian Jews on Forbes' Rich List". Shalom Life. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  6. ^ a b c Csillag, Ron (2014-07-18). "Mall Man from Montreal David Azrieli brought American-style shopping to Israel". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  7. ^ a b Carleton University: "David Azrieli, March / 97, PhD (Honorary)" Archived 2013-02-05 at the Wayback Machine retrieved January 18, 2012
  8. ^ "Making Philanthropy a Family Endeavour" by Paul Waldie, The Globe and Mail, January 20, 2012
  9. ^ "David Azrieli, Canadian-Israeli Shopping Mall Pioneer, Dies at 92". Haaretz. July 9, 2014.
  10. ^ Robehmed, Natalie. "Canadian-Israeli Real Estate Tycoon David Azrieli Dies At 92". Forbes. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Azrieli Group". GES. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  12. ^ Shauly, Avi (2010-05-12). "Azrieli offering underway - Globes". en.globes.co.il. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  13. ^ "קבוצת קניוני עזריאלי". investors.azrieli.com. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  14. ^ "David Azrieli, Canadian-Israeli billionaire and philanthropist, dies at 92". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  15. ^ "About Us". The Azrieli Foundation. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  16. ^ "Building bridges in brain research: Naomi Azrieli is ready 'for the long haul'". Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  17. ^ "COVID-19 Response". The Azrieli Foundation. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  18. ^ Harvie, Ronald T. (October 2007). "Architectural Awareness in Montréal" (PDF). Montréal Behind the Scenes. Tourisme Montréal. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  19. ^ "A Brief Chronology: Events and Heritage Montreal's principle efforts since 1975". Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  20. ^ a b Major Israeli businesses helped quadruple donations to right-wing Im Tirtzu movement, Haaretz, 30.12.2011
  21. ^ "David Azrieli – Ordre national du Québec". www.ordre-national.gouv.qc.ca.
  22. ^ "Honorary Degree Citation - David Azrieli". Concordia University Archives. Retrieved 2016-04-04.

External links[edit]