Leon Yehuda Recanati was born in Salonika in 1890 and died in Tel Aviv in 1945. His father, Shmuel, came from a distinguished line of rabbis, believed to be descendants of the renowned thirteenth century rabbinical scholar, R. Menachem Recanati.
Leon Recanati was a teacher and merchant. He was a member of Bnei Brith and from 1928 onwards served as president of the Salonika chapter. He was a representative of Greek Jewry on the council of the Jewish Agency and a member of the leadership of the Jewish community in Greece, serving as president of the Jewish community of Greece in the Zionist congresses, and in 1936, a year after his immigration to Palestine, he was elected to represent Greek Jewry as a delegate to the World Jewish Congress.
Settling in 1935 with his family in Tel Aviv, he established and laid the strong foundations of the Palestine Discount Bank Ltd., later to become Israel Discount Bank Ltd., the second largest bank in the country at the time of his death. Due to his excellent business connections and personality, he succeeded in raising substantial amounts of capital from Jews in Egypt and other countries for the development of the local economy. His activities strengthened and encouraged private initiative and contributed greatly to shaping the economic development of the Jewish community in pre-state Palestine.
He was involved in a wide range of philanthropic and national activities. He was a director of Keren Hayesod, a member of the executive of the Society of Friends of the Hebrew University, chairman of the Kadima club, chairman of the council of the Sephardi community in Tel Aviv, founder and chairman of the Banim L'Gvulam company, which was active in encouraging the participation of Sephardi Jews in establishing new settlements, an active member of the Bnei Brith lodge, and chairman of the scholarship fund Keren L'Mitlamdim , which he founded for the support of needy, gifted students.
His sons established in 1966 the School of Business Administration at Tel Aviv University in his memory and, together with his grandchildren, have closely followed the school's progress over the years.
His sons Daniel (1921-1984) and Raphael (1924-1999) established and controlled the IDB holding corporation- IDBH. One of the largest business enterprises operating in the private sector of the Israeli economy with an emphasis on investing in High-Tech and export oriented industries. IDBH operated through its major invests Israel Discount Bank (until 1986), PEC Israel Economic Corporation and Clal Israel. IDBH invests in several sectors of the Israeli economy: industry, insurance, retail, communication and Bio-Tech.
In May 2003 the third generation sold the control of IDBH and each of the members established his own investment activity.
His grandson Leon Recanati (b.1948, son of Daniel) is actively pursuing and contributing to the development of the Recanati Business School.
The Recanati family has always combined philanthropic activity with investment in the Israeli economy, working with the community to improve education and health care, to support the sciences and to cultivate the arts, and to help in the absorption of new immigrants.