One of the bastions of the Jewish community in Brazil, Moise Yacoub Safra has passed away at the age of 79. Safa passed away, reportedly from complications from Parkinson’s Disease, at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Moise Safra, who was born in the bustling city of Beirut, in Lebanon, was the middle brother of three sons of the late Jacob Safra who had already established a leading bank in the city of Aleppo, Syria, which they later uprooted to Beirut at the end of World War One.
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The Safra family were also to leave Beirut in the early 1950s, initially settling in Italy, before dispersing across the world with Moise and his brother Joseph settling in Brazil, where they built up a huge business empire, principally based around banking.
In 2006, Moise sold half of its stake in Safra banking to Joseph for an estimated $2 billion and began to diverse his business interests.
Despite his failing health Moise made one of the biggest deals of his business career in 2013 when he reportedly partnered with Chinese real estate billionaire Zhang Xin to acquire a 40% stake in the General Motors Building situated in Midtown Manhattan, with the two partners paying around $700 million in cash, plus assumed debt for their share of the property, which was valued, at that time, at around $3.4 billion while the previous year Moise is reported to have paid out in excess of $800 million for an office building in London.
Despite never having lived in the country, Moise Safra never forgot his Syrian roots reportedly having donated a considerable sum of money towards the construction of a community center being built for Syrian Jews on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The center, scheduled for completion later this year, will now be known as the Moise Safra Community Center.
As a member of one of Brazil’s most prominent Jewish families, Safra was deeply involved in community affairs throughout the country, not only contributing towards the funding of health, education and charity projects throughout the massive country as well as subsidising construction costs for synagogues and community centers, the late Moise to the very active interest in their running.
Moise Safra, who was buried at the Cemitério Israelita do Butanta in Sao Paulo, is survived by his wife, Chella Cohen Safra, and his five children: Jacob, Azuri, Edmundo, Esther, and Olga.