Yad Vashem gets $25 million donation

American-Jewish casino mogul Sheldon Adelson provides largest donation ever.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
October 26, 2006 14:33
2 minute read.
yad vashem photographs in cone 298

yad vashem cone 298. (photo credit: AP)

 
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An American Jewish entrepreneur who is listed as one of the 15 wealthiest people in the world has donated $25 million to Yad Vashem, in the single largest donation the organization has ever received in its half-century history, Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes Remembrance Authority announced Thursday. The donation by Sheldon G. Adelson and his wife Miriam is intended to allow Yad Vashem to expand its activities In Holocaust education and commemoration. "It is our hope that our donation assures the continuity of Yad Vashem and its activities, manifesting the importance we place on both Holocaust remembrance and the commemorative enterprise as vital components in securing the future of the Jewish people for generations to come," the Adelsons said in a press release issued by Yad Vashem. Adelson, 73, who grew up in a poor immigrant family in a poor suburb of Boston and earned his fortune developing huge hotel, convention and gambling properties in Las Vegas, is now the 14th richest person in the world with a net worth estimated at $20.5 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. A dynamic entrepreneur, business visionary, and venture capitalist, Mr. Adelson's business career spans six decades, during which he has run 50 different companies since the age of 12. His wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, who is Israeli, is a physician who specializes in treating chemical dependencies. Adelson's wife grew up in Israel and said that she always remembered the many members of her parents' families who had perished in the Holocaust. "I believe that a nation must remember from where it originates in order to reach its future goals," she said. "This is why this donation is not for raising buildings but rather for ensuring the continuation of Yad Vashem's activities, and the enhancement of its educational initiatives among both Jewish and non-Jewish youth." Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said that the donation was especially important, coming at a time when the Iranian President has repeatedly declared that Israel should be destroyed. "The challenges we face are particularly great in an era in which genocidal calls are being heard from the east, while in the west we are hearing silence once again," Shalev said. Yad Vashem's annual budget is about NIS 80 million, half of which is provided by the Ministry of Education, while the other half comes from private donors. A long-standing contributor to Jewish and Israeli institutions as well as to medical research foundations, Adelson is also a member of the board of directors of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Adelson's company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., is currently building one of the largest resort destinations projects in the world, in Macau, China. Earlier this year, his company was also awarded a hotly contested license to construct a casino resort in Singapore's Marina Bay. The new casino is expected to open in 2009 at a reported cost of $3.16 billion. He has been married twice, and is a father of five. A ceremony honoring the Adelsons will take place Friday at Yad Vashem, in the presence of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Education Minister Prof. Yuli Tamir, Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Elie Wiesel, and Likud opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu.

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