In 1976, she married Edmond Safra, a Brazilian-naturalized Jewish syrian banker. Their international lifestyle included homes in New York, London, Geneva and the French Riviera. The couple never had any children.
In 1999, Edmond Safra, a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, perished from a criminal fire at their apartment in Monaco. Lily Safra survived, as she was saved from the fire by the police. An American nurse, Ted Maher, was arrested under suspicion of starting the fire, and was convicted of the crime in 2002. He claimed that he had started the fire to carry out a daring rescue, in order to increase his standing in the Safra family’s eyes, but that he lost control of the fire. The details of Mr Safra’s passing were discussed by media outlets including 60 Minutes and by Dominick Dunne in Vanity Fair; the incident also served as a basis for an episode of Law & Order.
Edmond & Lily Safra Children’s Hospital
Mrs Safra is the Chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation, which supports projects related to education, science and medicine, religion, culture, and humanitarian relief. Mrs. Safra shared her commitment to caring for the less fortunate with her husband, Mr. Edmond J. Safra, one of the twentieth century’s most accomplished bankers and founder of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation. Since 1999 she has chaired this Foundation, which supports hundreds of projects over 50 countries. She has initiated many educational projects in memory of her husband, including endowing the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. A long and distinguished relationship with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem led to the naming of the Edmond J. Safra Campus.
Mrs. Safra is Honorary Chairman of the International Sephardic Education Foundation (ISEF), which she established with her husband in 1977. ISEF is the largest non-profit organization promoting higher education for gifted Israelis from disadvantaged backgrounds. Since its founding, over 16,000 scholarships have been granted, including support for more than 1,000 MA and PhD students. She also supports the Lily Safra Internship Program at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The internship program takes place during the summer and allows six undergraduate and two graduate students to carry out research at the HBI.
Both personally and through the Foundation, she supports research into cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and neurodegenerative diseases,particularly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, at hospitals and universities worldwide. Her awareness of the distress experienced by the families of those battling illnesses led her to construct the Family Lodge for patients and their families at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. She and her husband built a cutting-edge children’s hospital in Tel Hashomer, outside of Tel Aviv, which treats thousands of Israeli and Palestinian children. She is a member of the Board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.
In addition to being a Trustee of New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Somerset House Arts Fund in London, Mrs. Safra is a member of the Chairman’s Council of the Museum of Modern Art and the Kennedy Center’s International Committee on the Arts. She supported the joint acquisition of Bill Viola’s “Five Angels of the Millennium” by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Whitney Museum in New York, and established the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professorship at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. She is also significantly involved with the activities of London’s Courtauld Institute of Art, supporting curators and providing scholarships to outstanding art history students, in addition to having underwritten acclaimed exhibitions in the Institute’s Hermitage Rooms.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Mrs. Safra was a lead supporter of the American Red Cross’s relief effort, and she was instrumental in helping Dillard University of New Orleans continue to offer classes in temporary locations and to rebuild for the Fall 2006 semester. For many years she has assisted numerous New York City community organizations,chiefly Henry Street Settlement, the New York Center for Children, the Children’s Health Fund, and God’s Love We Deliver.
Lily Safra holds honorary doctorates from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, and Imperial College London, and she is an Honorary Fellow of King’s College London and the Courtauld Institute of Art. The French Government accorded her the rank of Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2004, and she was named Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur by President Jacques Chirac in 2005.
Visit : The Israel Museum, Jerusalem at : http://www.imj.org.il/