Proud Jews worldwide should kvell at the release today of the annual Forbes 400 list ranking the richest people in the world. The twelfth richest man in the America with $20.5 Billion is Sheldon Adelson, a proud Jew, Zionist and staunch supporter of Israel. This man devotes his entire essence and being to helping Am Yisrael, and this should make all Jews proud.
There are of course many Jews who are very wealthy – and many on the Forbes 400 list, but none of them are as generous as Adelson. Quite often, wealthy Jews shy away from their “Jewish identity.” But Adelson is the perfect model of a proud Jew. As the wealthiest Jew in the world, he and his Israeli-born wife Miriam are the biggest Jewish donors in the world, giving over $200 million annually to Jewish causes.
While Adelson has only become a household name in the last few months because of his political giving, the fact of the matter is his philanthropy trumps his political donations. And as a philanthropist, his criteria for giving is “whatever is good for the Jewish community and whatever is good for the State of Israel.” What could be a better ideal?
Unlike other major donors, he is rarely recognized for it – and that’s how he wants it as he wants non-profits focused on the cause. Sheldon and Miriam dislike having their names on buildings, and often give money without any recognition whatsoever. It’s the holiest of holies.
They have donated $100 million to Birthright Israel, undoubtedly the most effective program to keep young American Jews committed to the Jewish people, and are the biggest single donors ever to Yad Vashem, giving more than $25 million. Countless other organizations – Jewish, medical and others – have benefited from their generosity.
I know and have spent time with Sheldon Adelson, and the media portrayal of him is simply sickening and unfair. This is a fair, decent man who epitomizes the American Jewish dream. Owning a leading PR agency, I know damn well that many of Adelson’s peers give money and want the whole world to know about it. Unlike so many others, he gives because it is simply the right thing to do.
None other than (liberal) Alan Dershowitz has said: “It’s hard to find anyone who has done as much for the Jewish community as Sheldon Adelson. His generosity has helped repair the world.” Dershowitz is absolutely right — Sheldon Adelson is a great American, a great Jew, a success story, one of us who made it. The son of a cab driver, Adelson grew up poor, and he is someone we should all be happy for as we celebrate his success and recognition on the Forbes 400 list.
Jews worldwide who care about the future of our people should root for Adelson to keep moving up on the Forbes 400 list.