Dr. Miriam Adelson announced Tuesday that her husband, Sheldon G. Adelson, Las Vegas Sands Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheldon G. Adelson, 87, had passed away.
“It is with unbearable pain that I announce the death of my husband, Sheldon G. Adelson, of complications from a long illness,” she wrote.
“Sheldon was the love of my life. He was my partner in romance, philanthropy, political activism and enterprise. He was my soulmate.
To me – as to his children, grandchildren, and his legions of friends and admirers, employees and colleagues – he is utterly irreplaceable.
Much has been written and said about how Sheldon, the son of poor immigrants, rose to the pinnacle of business success on the strength of grit and genius, inspiration and integrity. His was an all-American story of entrepreneurship. When Sheldon launched a new venture, the world looked on with anticipation.
In our amazing 32-year adventure together, I was fortunate to witness the beauty of Sheldon’s private side.
He was an American patriot: a U.S. Army veteran who gave generously to wounded warriors and, wherever he could, looked to the advancement of these great United States. He was the proudest of Jews, who saw in the State of Israel not only the realization of an historical promise to a unique and deserving people, but also a gift from the Almighty to all of humanity.
And Sheldon was kind. He gave readily of his fortune to charitable causes that may literally be countless, as he expected no credit and often preferred anonymity. Although bluff in build and speech – and, in the last two decades, beset by painful sickness – Sheldon was always sensitive to the needs of others.
Visit any of our hotels and you will immediately notice the extraordinarily high ceilings, exquisitely designed by Sheldon at a sacrifice of lucrative space. He wanted all of our guests – no matter their means – to feel like kings, to breathe free in gorgeous tranquility. When the COVID-19 crisis hit and those hotels went dark, he insisted that our tens of thousands of Team Members continue getting their wages and medical insurance.
Each of those people, and millions of other beneficiaries of Sheldon’s largesse, are his testimonials.
But he went beyond bettering the lives of individuals: He crafted the course of nations. Some of the historical changes that he helped effect – in the United States, Israel and elsewhere – are publicly known. Others are not. For Sheldon, recognition of his own indispensable role was unimportant. What counted was that good be done. He cared about standing up for what was right, even if that meant standing alone. His ideal day’s end was in the company of family and friends, not statesmen or celebrities.
Sheldon and I grew up on coasts: him in Boston, me in Haifa. Together we sailed across oceans, pushed back the Pearl River Delta to help develop Macao’s future, recreated the Venice lagoon canals in Las Vegas. To me, Sheldon had power and depth and mystery like the sea. His devotion lifted me up, like waves, through challenges both personal and professional.
And now he is gone. The supporting waters have vanished heavenward. Only a vast, dry seabed remains. The loss is colossal.
Farewell, my darling, my one true love. After gaining and giving so much, you have earned this rest.
Dr. Miriam Adelson
US President Donald Trump:’A Great Man’
US President Donald Trump, a long-time friend of Adelson’s expressed his condolences on Tuesday following the announcement of his passing.
“Melania and I mourn the passing of Sheldon Adelson, and send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Miriam, his children and grandchildren. Sheldon lived the true American dream. His ingenuity, genius, and creativity earned him immense wealth, but his character and philanthropic generosity gave him his great name. Sheldon was also a staunch supporter of our great ally the State of Israel,” Trump said.
“He tirelessly advocated for the relocation of the United States embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and its neighbors,” Trump said. “Sheldon was true to his family, his country, and all those that knew him. The world has lost a great man. He will be missed.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo eulogized Adelson on Twitter, saying “Sheldon Adelson’s life represents the best of the American dream. Susan and I send our deepest condolences and prayersr to his family as the world mourns his passing… The world, Israel and the United States are safer because of his work.”
Sheldon Adelson’s life represents the best of the American dream. Susan and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to his family as the world mourns his passing. pic.twitter.com/QkL60v7iOE
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) January 12, 2021
Netanyahu Conveys Condolences of a Nation
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement shortly after Dr. Adelson issued the announcement that her husband Sheldon had passed away.
“Sara and I are heartbroken by the passing of Sheldon Adelson,” Netanyahu said.
“He was a wonderful friend to us personally and an incredible champion of the Jewish people, the Jewish state and the alliance between Israel and America.
“Sheldon unabashedly loved America and cherished the freedom and opportunity it gave him. He worked tirelessly to ensure that very same freedom and opportunity would be given to others in America and around the world.
“The warmth of his heart, the clarity of his thinking and the decisiveness of his actions were truly exceptional.
“From humble beginnings in a suburb of Boston, he rose to be one of world’s greatest entrepreneurs and philanthropists.
“With his wife Miri he contributed endlessly to strengthening the Jewish people and the Jewish state, funding breakthroughs in medicine and science and advancing higher education.
“He gave anonymously to help victims of terror and countless other people in need.
“Sara and I join Miri and the family in mourning a great friend, a great man, and a great Jewish patriot.
“We will never forget him. May his memory be blessed.”
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin also expressed his condolences and his own personal sorrow at the loss of Israel’s champion, calling Adelson “a great American patriot who saw it as his mission and Goal to strengthen the alliance between Israel and the US.”
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer tweeted a statement saying Adelson was a “true giant” who “devoted himself to strengthening his people, his homeland and the bonds between his beloved America and Israel.”
A True Zionist
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson accompanied President George W. Bush in 2008 to Jerusalem for Israel’s 60th Anniversary celebration.
Adelson was deeply involved in American politics, but it was as a true Zionist that his presence as a philanthropist was cemented worldwide.
His love for both the United States and Israel, and his desire to preserve the strongest diplomatic and cultural ties possible between the two, was the driving force that led the philanthropist and his wife to support Jewish causes on both sides of the Atlantic.
His first visit to Israel was in 1988, when he arrived wearing the shoes of his father, who was born in Lithuania. The elder Adelson, deeply poverty-stricken, never was able to reach the Holy Land, his son always said.
The couple’s generosity made possible the birth of a new medical school in the State of Israel, in addition to medical research, a private school, drug rehabilitation clinics and countless other causes, not all of which became public.
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson were behind the popular Israeli English-language and Hebrew-language free daily newspaper, Israel Hayom. And the online news outlet, Jewish News Service (JNS). He is also the benefactor behind Birthright-Taglit. And the new medical school at Ariel University. He was the person who loaned his aircraft to bring Jonathan Pollard and his wife, in fragile health, home to Israel. And he was a major backer of the Zionist Organization of America, as well as Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Philanthropy Not Limited to Israel, Politics
Adelson’s largesse has not been limited solely with popular “causes,” however; he also had great loyalty to the thousands of employees who worked for him as well.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, after the coronavirus pandemic led to the closure of Nevada casinos in March 2020, Adelson continued to provide full salaries and benefits to all 10,000 Las Vegas Sands Corp. employees, plus the 1,200 employees working in their 14 independently-operated restaurants.
While employees in the rest of the country were surviving on unemployment benefits, and sometimes not even that, Adelson’s employees knew they could rely on their paycheck.
The Adelsons visit Israel every year, at least six to eight times a year; they own a home in Tel Aviv, plus the new former home of the US Ambassador to Israel in Herzliya recently purchased from the State Department, in addition to their homes in Las Vegas, Malibu and Boston.
Fighting Antisemitism, Doing Business from the Start
A descendant of Ukrainian, Lithuanian and British Jewish ancestors, Adelson was one of four children born to Arthur and Sarah Adelson in 1933 Boston, Massachusetts.
By age 16, he already was managing his own small empire of candy vending machines placed in gas stations and factories.
Adelson grew up tough, fighting antisemitism in the streets and at Roxbury Memorial High School, according to an interview with Forbes in 2012. His education ended in his sophomore year at City College of New York, dropping out to join the US Armed Forces.
But his love for being a dealmeister continued: from selling chotchkes Adelson moved on to brokering mortgages and then became a condominium developer. He sold charter tours, then trade shows.
By that time, he had learned his way around the tourism industry and around big business. He bought the Sands Hotel & Casino.
Adelson’s love for the United States and Israel, and his strong desire to reinforce the “unbreakable bond” between the two nations, was the motivating factor that led to the couple’s mega donations to political candidates in the United States.
The Adelsons have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative PACs and to Republican candidates over the past two decades.
The financial contribution of the Adelsons in 2016 provided the primary support necessary to back President Donald Trump’s initial run for office, along with the campaigns of other Republicans.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day comes the moment of truth when we all must decide who we really are and which things are important in life.
Sheldon Adelson learned those lessons a long time ago, and passed on the knowledge in a column he wrote for the New York Post about his decision to keep paying his thousands of employees despite the closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“… I recall one of the most important lessons I learned from my father. He would come home from work — when he could find work, that is — and put loose change in the family pushke (charity box). When I asked why he would give to others when we had so little, he would say, ‘There is always someone whose need is greater than ours,’” Adelson wrote.
Yehi Zichro Baruch