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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
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Passionate And Opinionated, Adelson Makes Waves In Presidential Race

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson

Fred Zeidman, a major Romney backer this election and the former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, said Adelson’s objections were par for the course for major donors.

“You don’t just write blank checks,” Zeidman said. “You don’t have to agree, but don’t ask him to give money to something he doesn’t believe in.”

Adelson told JTA in 2009 that his criteria for giving were “whatever is good for the Jewish community and whatever is good for the state of Israel.”

Miriam Adelson, an internist from Israel who specializes in drug addiction, is his second wife. He met her on a blind date in 1989, a year after he divorced his first wife, Sharon.

Adelson, a product of a working class family in Dorchester, Mass., who made his first fortune organizing computer trade shows, already was leaning right, but Miriam helped sharpen his views, particularly relating to her native Israel.

Associates say she dotes on him, snatching harmful foods from his hand.

“He tells her to go away, but he listens,” said ZOA President Morton Klein, adding that Adelson tells his friends he was determined to marry an Israeli the second time around.

In the 1990s, as he entered the casino business, Adelson established two friendships that have thrust him into the political storm: with Benjamin Netanyahu and Gingrich. Both friendships, notably, were forged in pro-Israel politics: Gingrich, defying both the Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin governments, had shepherded a law through Congress recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Zeidman says Adelson is a solid listener but knows when his mind is made up. “He’s very strong willed,” Zeidman said. “He is truly blunt in terms of articulating his decisions once he’s made them.”


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