Sylvan Adams is no stranger to honor and acclaim. Throughout his distinguished business and philanthropic career, he has received numerous awards and honorary degrees celebrating his philanthropy and good works. Yet, for Adams, lighting one of the twelve torches this evening at Mt. Herzl, marking the opening of Israel’s 75th Independence Day celebrations, is one of the great honors of his life. “It is truly a thrill,” he says. “I never dreamt that I would receive such recognition.”
Adams, who made aliyah in 2016, will be lighting the torch on Independence Day as the representative of the Jews of the Diaspora, and he views this honor as the culmination of his family’s past, present and future.
“I got my sense of Zionism and connection to Israel from my parents,” says Adams. His parents, Holocaust survivors, spent time in Israel during the early years of the state and implanted a love of Israel in their son. “My father fought in the War of Independence, and my mother was refused entry to Israel and spent six months in an internment camp in Cyprus before the state was declared in 1948.” Adams met his British-born wife while volunteering in a kibbutz in the 1980s. “For us, making aliyah was coming full circle and expressing aliyah in the purest way – with our feet,” he says earnestly. “My parents will be most certainly looking at me from heaven this evening, beaming with great pride.”
Since arriving in Israel seven years ago, Adams has dedicated his life in presenting the positive face of Israel to the world. He quickly became known as Israel’s “self-appointed ambassador-at-large,” arranging Israel’s hosting of the first three stages of the Giro d’Italia Grand Tour bicycle race in 2018, bringing Madonna to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in 2019 and sponsoring Israel’s hosting of the French Super Cup in Tel Aviv in July 2022 between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and NC Nantes, which brought soccer superstars Lionel Messi, Neymar and Sergio Ramos to the Holy Land. Adams owns Israel – Premier Tech professional cycling team, the first team from Israel to compete at the highest level of its sport, including the Tour de France, which carries the good name of Israel outside its borders as well.
“My parents will be most certainly looking at me from heaven this evening, beaming with great pride.”
While advocating for Israel to the outside world is an essential part of his activities, Adams has provided for his fellow Israeli citizens. In 2022, Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital inaugurated the Sylvan Adams Emergency Hospital, the largest and most modern emergency room facility in the world. The Save a Child’s Heart program, which offers life-saving saving heart surgery to Israeli and Palestinian children as well as children from developing nations, is located at the Sylvan Adams Children’s Hospital at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.
Adams views his receiving the honor of lighting one of the twelve torches this evening as a validation of his work. “This shows me that the work that I have done since my aliyah as truly appreciated, and it tells me that I am on the right track.”
Despite the recent discord that Israel has experienced, Adams says that the torch-lighting ceremony is an opportunity for the nation to come together. “The fact that more than half of Israel will be tuned in demonstrates the basic unity of our people,” he says. “Although we have arguments from time to time, at the end of the day, we love our country, and we love each other. We can still respect each other despite our differences of opinion.”
When Sylvan Adams lights his torch this evening, he will be honoring his parents, his nation, and those who tell the true story of Israel – a pluralistic, open and democratic country.