Sheldon Adelson, Jewish Patriot, Casino Magnate, and Philanthropist, Dies at 87

Sheldon Adelson and Miriam Adelson (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)
Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate, veteran, and philanthropist known for his donation to conservative and pro-Israel causes, passed away Monday night at the age of 87 at his home in Malibu, California.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the hometown paper of the city Adelson helped build, reported:

Sheldon Adelson, who rose from selling newspapers on Boston street corners at age 12 to one of the most successful luxury resort developers, philanthropists and political influencers of his generation, died Monday night at his home in Malibu, California. He was 87.

Adelson founded and served as Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., the world’s largest gaming corporation, from its inception in 1988. He had been on medical leave from the company since Jan. 7 to resume his fight against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which he had battled since 2019.

Under Adelson’s leadership, Las Vegas Sands pioneered the integrated resort model that now dominates the Strip, combining luxury hotel-casinos with convention centers. Adelson’s concept was so popular and financially successful that he became one of the world’s wealthiest people.

Adelson rose from poverty to success in business, and served in the U.S. Army. He was raised as a Democrat, but became a Republican over time, and was well-known as a Republican “megadonor,” the single biggest individual campaign donor in recent election cycles. He also funded conservative groups such as the Republican Jewish Coalition, one of the most active pro-Israel Jewish groups in Washington, DC.

Initially somewhat skeptical of Donald Trump, Adelson eventually supported him, and played an influential role in pushing the administration to adopt bold Middle East policy changes, including the movement of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Known as a hawk for his staunchly pro-Israel views, Adelson helped shape a legacy of peacemaking, as the Abraham Accords came to fruition between Israel and several neighboring Arab states.

Adelson also left his mark on Israeli politics, backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He funded a free daily newspaper, Israel Hayom, that took an editorial line supporting Netanyahu and his policies.

The paper remembered Adelson as a “visionary and philanthropist” in an obituary written by his wife, Miriam, a psychologist:

Sheldon was the love of my life. He was my partner in romance, philanthropy, political activism and enterprise. He was my soul-mate.

He was an American patriot: a US 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.

In addition, the Adelsons were known for their donations to the cause of treating drug addiction. During the coronavirus pandemic, he continued to pay the salaries of his 10,000 employees, even though they could not work. He also helped import much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) from overseas.

Adelson is survived by three sons, three daughters, and eleven grandchildren.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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