The Legacy of Sam Israel:
A Long History of Philanthropy
The Samis Foundation started with a mission to support intensive, immersive Jewish education in Washington State and initiatives in Israel. Since its inception in 1994, it has fulfilled this goal by giving over $100 million in grants in support of over 150 different programs, organizations and initiatives.
During his lifetime, Sam Israel believed in giving back. Born in 1899 in the Sephardic community of Rhodes, then part of the Ottoman Empire, he and his family immigrated to Seattle in 1919. Sam had apprenticed as a shoemaker prior to emigrating to the US and, shortly after arriving, founded a series of successful shoe repair businesses in downtown Seattle, eventually landing a contract to repair shoes for the United States Army. Sam invested his earnings in real estate amassing a significant portfolio of properties and assets currently valued at approximately $180 million.
Before his death in 1994, Sam Israel established the Samis Foundation and appointed 18 lifetime trustees to govern the Samis Foundation. Many of the original lifetime trustees, their successors and professional staff oversee and manage the Foundation’s assets and philanthropic giving today. The Foundation continues Sam Israel’s legacy through its support of Jewish education locally, and six program areas in Israel including archaeology, immigration, college scholarships, widows and orphans, the poor, and wildlife preservation. In addition, the Foundation provides disaster relief when crises or natural disasters hit communities across the globe. The Samis Foundation is proud to preserve Sam’s legacy.
“Samis is strengthening ties to Judaism and building the Jewish community through Jewish education across Washington State, and the State of Israel.”
– Connie Kanter, Chief Executive Officer, Samis Foundation