Sheldon Adelson Laid to Rest on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Wife of Sheldon Adelson, Israeli-born Dr. Miriam Adelson at Jerusalem's Mount of Olives burial, January 15, 2021.
Wife of Sheldon Adelson, Israeli-born Dr. Miriam Adelson at Jerusalem's Mount of Olives burial, January 15, 2021.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

Jewish American billionaire Sheldon Adelson was laid to rest on Friday on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, in the presence of his Israeli-born wife Miriam and son Matan.

Praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "huge Jewish patriot", Adelson died on Monday from cancer at the age of 87, said Las Vegas Sands Corp., which he turned into the world's largest casino company.

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Netanyahu was present on Thursday when Adelson's body arrived at Israel's Ben Gurion International airport, in a coffin draped in U.S. and Israeli flags.

Adelson, Netanyahu's patron, launched in 2007 the free daily newspaper Israel Hayom, which became Israel's most popular newspaper and a major amplifier of right-wing voices.

“This is a feeling of great emptiness and loss, but also a sense of comfort, knowing that he is no longer suffering and that he will soon lie in the Mount of Olives, in Zion, next to some of the greatest people of our nation,” his widow, Miriam, said in a statement.

Sheldon Adelson being laid to rest at Jerusalem's Mount of Olives burial, January 15, 2021.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

An estimated 150,000 people are interred in the ancient Jewish cemetery where Adelson was buried, including well-known public figures throughout Jewish and Zionist history. In 2012, the authorities who run the cemetery said there is barely any room left.

The Las Vegas-based casino magnate, one of the world’s richest men, was a major giver to an array of Jewish causes, as well as a Republican kingmaker. His May 2016 endorsement of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy was seen as making it legitimate for the GOP faithful to back the reality show star’s outlier bid.

Adelson was a principal backer of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which during his years of association with the group helped expand the Jewish Republican voting base.

A combative, self-made man raised in a poor Jewish immigrant family in Boston, Adelson established hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore. His wealth made him a formidable figure in U.S. and Israeli politics.

Known for extensive philanthropy and business ventures in Israel and donations to Jewish causes, Adelson saw his cherished goal for the city come to fruition in 2017, when President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

That move broke with decades of U.S. policy, placed America at odds with most of the rest of the world, and infuriated Palestinians who claim the east of the city as the capital of a putative future state.

Reuters and JTA contributed to this report.

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