Friends of Yemin Orde receives extraordinary gift that allows for completion of funding needed to build two major capital projects at Yemin Orde Youth Village.

Kathy and Michael Azeez provided a transformative gift to Friends of Yemin Orde.
Kathy and Michael Azeez

We are pleased to announce that Friends of Yemin Orde has received a transformative gift of $1.5 million from longtime donors Kathy and Michael Azeez. This gift will allow for the completion of funding needed to build the Davidson Auditorium and Cultural Center, as well as build two staff homes, at Yemin Orde Youth Village.

In 2018, Manny and Brigitta Davidson committed the lead gift of $4.5 million for the $5.5.million project to build an auditorium and cultural center, which is the largest capital project ever assumed at Yemin Orde. They challenged Friends of Yemin Orde (FYO) to raise the remaining $1 million.

The Salinsky family in Lynn, MA committed $50,000 and the gift from Kathy and Michael will provide the balance of the funding needed. Their leadership and generosity will be recognized during a special ceremony at Yemin Orde Youth Village when construction is completed in December 2021.

Kathy and Michael’s donation will also help accelerate the construction of a new staff apartment complex at the Village. Each complex will contain four staff apartments. Two apartments are already committed; the Azeez family gift will support the completion of the remaining two apartments.

Michael Azeez provides outstanding leadership for FYO

When Kathy and Michael first visited Yemin Orde Youth Village in 1997, they knew instantly they discovered a magical place.

“We fell in the love with the people, the place and the mission,” said Michael. The Azeez family’s gift is made in memory of Michael’s parents, Sidney (Sam) and Anne Azeez.

Since 2009, Michael has served as a Board Member for Friends of Yemin Orde and he has served as Chair of its Marketing Committee. He continues to provide extraordinary leadership to the organization’s ongoing rebranding project.

“We are grateful to Michael for his tireless dedication throughout his years of leadership with our organization, which has allowed us to impact Israel’s at-risk youth by elevating education and lifting lives the Village Way,” said Karen Sallerson, Executive Director, Friends of Yemin Orde.

Azeez family builds community in the U.S. and Israel

Professionally, Michael joined American Cellular Network Corp in 1982 at its inception until after it was sold in 1988. He co-founded UNITEL, which operated cellular telephone systems in rural areas in various locations across the United States. He serves as the managing partner of Vermeil Wines, which produces quality wines from Calistoga, Napa Valley California. Michael also serves as Chairman and Founder of the Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage where he was responsible for restoring the Woodbine Brotherhood Synagogue and creating a museum on the history of the town.

Kathy Azeez is an avid and highly-skilled quilter and owner of Unique Quilt Patterns. Shed donated three of her originally designed quilts to Yemin Orde which are on display throughout the Village. Michael loves the great outdoors and enjoys playing golf, hunting and fishing. “Israel is one of our most favorite places to travel,” said Michael.

Michael credits his father, Sam, with being a role model for his charitable-giving.

“He was a big believer in giving back and he had a huge impact on my philanthropic efforts,” said Michael. “Just recently, two of our friends visited the Village. Afterwards, they sent me a note to say that now they understood why Yemin Orde is so important to me.”

Michael and Kathy travel to Israel frequently and have participated on Friends of Yemin Orde trips numerous times throughout the years. Their daughter, Jessica, served as volunteer at the Village for three months and taught yoga to the students. The family has also hosted fundraising events in their home in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, as well as provided home hospitality to Yemin Orde graduates and staff.

Kathy and Michael Azeez have hosted Yemin Orde graduates and staff in their home.
Kathy Azeez, Nofar Getenech Desta (YO graduate), Michael Azeez

“Meeting with staff, alumni and current students is a continual source of inspiration,” Michael said. “The dedication of the staff is amazing. The experiences of our graduates and what they have overcome are a testament to their perseverance and the success of Yemin Orde and the Village Way.”

A meaningful commitment to Israel’s at-risk youth

George Blank, Board Chair, Friends of Yemin Orde, said the Azeez’s gift will set an example and inspire others to support Friends of Yemin Orde in a substantial and meaningful way.

“Michael and Kathy have demonstrated their commitment to the future of Israel and the Village Way through their extraordinary generosity. I am proud to call them my friends and partners in philanthropy. Our successes in 2019 will give us the energy and impetus to continue with our strategic fundraising goals into 2020,” Blank said.

Kathy and Michael have two children and three grandchildren.


For more information on capital project needs, contact Karen Sallerson, Executive Director, Friends of Yemin Orde, at karen@yeminorde.org or call 202.237.0286.

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