Lenny and Faigel Shapiro (photo from CFHU)
Calgary resident and philanthropist Lenny Shapiro recently announced that he and his wife Faigel are expanding their scholarship program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. As part of a new five-year commitment, the couple is increasing the number and value of scholarships they will be awarding to students pursuing their university studies after completing their mandatory service in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).
A strong believer in the concept of tzedakah, Lenny Shapiro has donated to many nonprofit organizations in both Canada and Israel. He has long supported students at HU, having provided scholarships to hundreds of students over the years and, in July, he decided to make a substantial donation to be used over the next five years for scholarships for students who have served in the IDF. To add to the impact, Canadian Friends of Hebrew University (CFHU) and Hebrew University will be matching a portion of his contribution.
At the heart of this action is Shapiro’s longstanding respect and appreciation for those who risk their lives in defence of Israel.
“I’m in love with the soldiers,” he said. “They put their lives on the line. Many have lost friends in battle. For those that then go on to study at Hebrew University who I can help, I feel they’re like my family. I see myself as being like a grandfather for them. Their needs are my needs, and I’m so pleased to do what I can to help them get their degree as they make their way through life.”
Shapiro has shared his passion for Hebrew University with the next generation in his family. One of his daughters, Robin Murphy, is a member of CFHU’s national board.
Born in Montreal, Lenny Shapiro grew up in modest conditions. After graduating from Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) with a bachelor of commerce, he went on to head Allied Resources Management, part of the petroleum industry in Alberta.
Shapiro has always operated according to the principle that there’s no better exercise for your heart than reaching down and helping to lift someone up. His impact is reflected in the many letters he’s received over the years from HU students for whom his scholarships have allowed them to complete their studies.
“With the financial support I received from you, it’s easier for me to concentrate on my studies,” Julia Arziantzev wrote to Shapiro during the second year of her master’s degree in cultural studies at HU. “Without your scholarship, I doubt I would be able to keep up my average or even keep studying. Thank you for your generous assistance. It makes me optimistic to know there are people like you who are willing to help in such a tremendous way.”