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David Joshua Azrieli
Mr. David Azrieli.jpg
Born (1922-05-10)May 10, 1922
Maków Mazowiecki, Poland
Died July 9, 2014(2014-07-09) (aged 92)
Ivry-sur-le-Lac, Quebec, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater Thomas More Institute (B.A.)
Carleton University (M.Arch.)
Occupation Real estate developer, architect and philanthropist
Spouse(s) Stephanie Lefcort
Children Rafael Azrieli
Sharon Azrieli
Naomi Azrieli
Danna Azrieli
Awards Order 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. 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.

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

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.

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.

In 1957, he married Stephanie Lefcort. They have four children: Rafael, Sharon, Naomi and Danna. 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.

Business career

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.

In 2010, he took the Azrieli Group public in the largest ever IPO on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. It is now the largest real estate company in the country. 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.


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.

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. 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.

Awards and recognition

Published works

  • 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

  • Economy of Israel
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