Mr. Yehuda Assia

Sep 24, 1917 — Aug 29, 2016

Yehuda Assia passed away on Monday, August 29, 2016, at the age of 99, after living a full and satisfying life.

Yehuda Assia was born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1917. He left his home at 21 to build his career in business, and successfully planted business and family roots in Japan, Thailand, the U.S., Switzerland, and Israel. He was an exceptional trader, industrialist, and banker who was responsible for the development of the Israeli banking system in the 1950 through foreign investment, as one of the founders of the Suisse-Israelien Banque pour La Commerce in Geneva. Overall, his contribution to the Israeli economy and society was exceptional.

In addition to his long career in business, Yehuda Assia was known for his passion for philanthropy. His support of various causes went above and beyond, as he invested time and effort in advocating the causes he held dear and recruited his friends and clients to support these causes as well. Among the causes supported by his generosity were the Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv University, the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center, and the Fund for Promoting Education among Iraqi Jews in Israel which he founded.

Yehuda Assia has a special bond with the Weizmann Institute of Science, which he dubbed his “second home”. This relationship, which began with a chance encounter with Meir Weisgal in 1954, grew stronger as the years passed. He served on the Institute’s Board of Governors and the Executive Council consecutively from 1964 until 2008, when he was admitted as a Life Member of the International Board. He also served on the various governance bodies of the Institute throughout this time. In addition to his personal support of various scientific purposes, Yehuda was also a remarkable fundraiser who – through personal and business connections – was responsible for some of the Weizmann Institute’s largest gifts, and thus helped promote science for the benefit of humanity.

In recognition of his many years of friendship and crucial contribution for the success of the Institute, Yehuda Assia was given a PhD honoris causa of the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1982. His tradition continues with his son, David Assia, who serves as a member of the International Board and chairs its Audit Committee.

It is always difficult to say goodbye to such a unique person and dear friend. He will be missed by all who knew him. Of behalf of the entire Weizmann Institute family, we send our heartfelt condolences to his son David Assia, his daughter Dahlia Pelled, and the rest of the family.