web analytics
April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



An Interview With Philanthropist Extraordinaire Sheldon Adelson


Sheldon-Adelson-123011

Share Button

In September 2011, Forbes magazine ranked Sheldon Adelson the 8th richest man in America and 16th in the world. He is chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. with integrated resorts in Asia, Pennsylvania, and Las Vegas where his holdings include The Venetian, The Palazzo and the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

He has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to Jewish and Israeli concerns and is the single largest donor to the Birthright Israel program. He and his wife, Miriam, recently presented Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial with $25 million – the second $25 million donation made by the couple to Yad Vashem in five years. Their total contribution is the largest ever received by Yad Vashem from a private donor.

The Jewish Press: Let’s start at the beginning. Where were you raised?

Adelson: As far as I was concerned, we lived in a Jewish ghetto in Boston. I used to call it the slums. The best you could say about it was that it was a dense, impoverished area. My parents had few material things and the moneylender came to the house so often that I thought he was an uncle, like he was part of the family, because he would show up at every family affair.

What was it like growing up so impoverished?

For several years the whole family – my parents, two brothers, and my sister – lived in one bedroom. The living room was a storefront where my mother ran a knitting store. Besides that, there was a little sitting area, a bathroom, and a kitchen. But there was always this blue and white pushke on the kitchen table. My dad, being a cab driver, always came home with a lot of change in his pocket, so he would take all the change in his pocket and put it into the pushke.

One day I asked him what he was doing and he said, “I’m filling the box.” I asked him what happens when it gets full and he said, “I take it down to the place,” which turned out to be the Federation office. “They empty it and give it to poor people, then give it back to me and I fill it up again.”

I said, “But Daddy, aren’t we poor?” He said, “Yeah, we’re poor, but there’s always somebody who’s more poor and you have to help take care of them.” I didn’t want to believe that, because nobody ever helped me. I had to do everything on my own. He made me promise that I would put money in a pushke every day. I don’t quite do it like that, but I think he’ll forgive me because I do it “in bulk.”

When did you start working?

When I was about nine. I had to work for three years to save $35 to buy a bicycle. I repaired bicycles, shoveled snow, did odd jobs. But then, my first business was at the age of twelve. I bought and sold two newspaper “corners.” The “corner” was like a franchise to be able to sell the local newspapers. It was a right, and I had to buy that right from somebody.

As a boy, were you determined to become rich?

No, I never thought about becoming wealthy. It never crossed my mind. What really motivated me was to try to accomplish something. Achievement is the motivation of entrepreneurs.

Did being Jewish always play an important role in your life?

Oh, yes. My father wasn’t very religious, but he told me his father was – my grandfather, whom I never met. My parents sent their children to Hebrew school, and on the high holidays my father would insist that we go with him to shul.

For my father, when Israel was founded it was a wonderful day. He always wanted to go to Israel, but he could never afford it. When I made enough money so that I could afford to give my parents whatever they wanted, I wanted them to go to Israel, but by then my father was too old and too sick to go.

Were they able to see you go to Israel?

No. My parents died in 1985, may they rest in peace. When my siblings and I went down to clean out their apartment, I saw a pair of his shoes. My father and I had exactly the same odd shoe size. When I used to visit my parents in North Miami Beach, we would go to the Florsheim store in Bal Harbour. It was the only store in the country where I could find more than one pair of shoes in my size. I would try to encourage my father to get shoes, but he’d always say “No, but those shoes that you just bought, take good care of my shoes.” Then in the summer, when he came to spend time with my family and me, he would take the shoes from me because I couldn’t get him to spend any money. My mother, too, was the same way. So when they passed away and we went down to clean out their apartment, I saw those shoes that he had recently taken. I took them back with me.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “An Interview With Philanthropist Extraordinaire Sheldon Adelson”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arab rioters hurl objects at Israeli security personnel who use pepper spray to quell the violence emanating from the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.
Arab Violence Closes Temple Mount to Visitors Again
Latest Indepth Stories
Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

Dov Shurin

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

More Articles from Marcia Friedman
Sheldon-Adelson-123011

In September 2011, Forbes magazine ranked Sheldon Adelson the 8th richest man in America and 16th in the world.

In 1981, when Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor and was condemned for it by nearly the entire world, Pastor John Hagee decided he had to stand up for Israel. And he did. “A Night to Honor Israel” was born with the purpose of giving the Christian community an opportunity to demonstrate its love and support of Israel and the Jewish people.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/a-man-of-compassion-and-commitment-an-interview-with-philanthropist-extraordinaire-sheldon-adelson/2011/12/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: