Published On: Tue, May 19th, 2015

Azrieli Foundation Grants the Largest Gift Ever to Bar-Ilan University School of Medicine in the Galilee


Ambra Battilana

azrieli foundation

As Bar-Ilan University kicks off its 60th anniversary celebrations, the Azrieli Foundation has announced that it will make a $50 million donation to the Bar-Ilan School of Medicine in the Galilee, the largest donation ever made by the Foundation and the largest pledge ever received by Bar-Ilan University.

The Azrieli Foundation’s gift will be matched (for a total of $100 million) by the government of Israel, which declared the establishment of the medical school a national priority initiative and chose Bar-Ilan University to open the country’s only medical school in the Galilee.

Located in the city of Safed, the newly-named Azrieli School of Medicine at Bar-Ilan University opened its doors in October 2011 in response to a nationwide shortage of physicians and the need to upgrade medical services and infrastructure in the region. Now completing its fourth year of operation, the Medical School is home to nearly 550 students enrolled in MD programs and advanced degrees in medical science.

The gift is an expression of the Azrieli Foundation’s confidence that the Azrieli School of Medicine at Bar-Ilan University is well-positioned to address the increasing need for highly-trained medical professionals; to reverse Israel’s “brain drain” phenomena by bringing home students, teachers and researchers from some of the most prestigious institutions abroad; and to provide quality healthcare and employment opportunities to the citizens of northern Israel.

“Such a regional and national undertaking is in keeping with the Azrieli Foundation’s on-going commitment to Israel, to advanced training, and to scientific and medical research, ” said Dr.Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation Canada. “This initiative builds upon our decade-long involvement in supporting and encouraging a new generation of researchers and clinicians. We aim for high and long-term impact with our philanthropy, and our gift to the Azrieli School of Medicine at Bar-Ilan University is a key part of our strategic vision for Israel. We are delighted to partner with Bar-Ilan to provide a new platform for clinical studies for students, and also to increase the capacity of the University and the country for basic medical research, which will have wide-reaching benefits.”

The Azrieli Foundation was established in 1989 by the late David Azrieli, a visionary builder, businessman and philanthropist who was as committed to helping others receive an education as he was to building Israel. The Foundation supports and operates a wide range of initiatives and programs in the fields of scientific and medical research, Holocaust education, architecture and the arts, and also promotes excellence in and access to education.

Danna Azrieli, Chair of Azrieli Group and Azrieli Foundation in Israel, added that “the Azrieli Foundation and the Azrieli family are proud to be part of the Zionist vision of building a medical school that infuses the northern region’s seven hospitals and communities with young doctors and world class researchers. We feel privileged to be partners with the State of Israel’s and Bar-Ilan University’s mission to train the next generation of doctors, expand medical research infrastructures, and offer excellent healthcare to the diverse Jewish, Arab and Druze communities who choose to live in one of Israel’s most beautiful areas.”

“We are deeply humbled by the Azrieli Foundation’s faith in our mission to revolutionize medical care in northern Israel, whose citizens deserve the same access to the finest medical services as those in the center of the country, ” said University President Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, who was a former minister of science, technology and space, in acknowledging the gift.
“While educating a future generation of physicians and scientists, the Medical School is also imbuing in its students a sense of social commitment. I thank and pay tribute to the Azrieli Foundation for its tremendous support of the Medical School and its belief in the future of our School as a leading scientific-medical institution committed to the development of the Galilee region, ” said Prof. Ran Tur-Kaspa, Dean of the Azrieli School of Medicine at Bar-Ilan University.

Rabbi Prof. Hershkowitz will officially announce the gift on Monday evening, May 18, at a gala ceremony marking the University’s 60th anniversary and conferring an honorary doctorate upon the President of Israel, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, among others. At the event, Naomi Azrieli and Danna Azrieli, along with Bar-Ilan Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Mordecai D. Katz, will place the ceremonial hood around President Rivlin’s shoulders.

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