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Tourism titan, philanthropist, Israel champion Sheldon Adelson laid to rest in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas resort visionary and philanthropist whose contributions to Israel and Jewish life have benefited countless people, was laid to rest Friday in a private ceremony in Jerusalem with close family members.

His wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, eulogized him as someone who was irreplaceable.

“It may seem strange, here in Jerusalem, the heart of Israel, which was so dear to Sheldon’s heart, I am eulogizing my husband in English rather than in Hebrew, but Sheldon never liked simultaneous translations, and as I speak now I feel that he can hear me,” she said.

“I feel him, watching, listening to every word with every magnetic attention he lavished on me, each and every day during our more than 32 years together. So here I am, Sheldon, adrift in endless pain, sustained with endless love, saying, ‘Goodbye, heye shalom (farewell).’”

Sheldon Adelson, the longtime chairman and CEO of resort operator Las Vegas Sands Corp., died Monday at age 87 from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The developer of The Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas and hotels in Macao and Singapore had fought the disease for two years.

Miriam Adelson recalled their joint effort to fight the illness.

“It was a privilege, Sheldon. Each additional hour and minute and second that we had together was a gift, and I am sorry, so, so sorry, that I couldn’t make it last longer. I do not want to accept this ending; I do not want to accept this final act. Ours is a love story that should go on forever. And it will go on, in my memory, in my agonized heart, which, for as long as it beats, will beat for you and only for you.”

The ceremony was held in the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

Miriam Adelson noted that “those buried here, on the Mount of Olives, will be resurrected first” once the Messiah comes. She then said that she would one day renew their partnership, but “until then, until we are reunited, I will part with you with lines from one of our favorite songs.”

She then quoted from Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings”: “Fly, fly, fly high against the sky. Thank you, thank you. Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.” The song was then played.

Adelson has been mourned around the world by government leaders and prominent business figures since his death was announced Tuesday morning.

In Las Vegas, the city Adelson helped reinvent by emphasizing weekday business conventions, Strip hotel marquees displayed tributes in his memory this week. On Friday, Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered Nevada flags at state public buildings and grounds flown at half-staff from sunrise until sunset in remembrance of Adelson.

In Israel and the Jewish world, Adelson was compared this week to other major Jewish philanthropists and Zionist giants, owing to his massive contributions to hospitals, universities and Jewish outreach programs, including hundreds of millions of dollars to the Taglit-Birthright project, which brought more than a million Jewish young people to the country, as well as to his relentless activities to make Israel more secure.

Many credit him for the successful effort to have the U.S. and other countries recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

On Thursday, when Adelson’s casket arrived in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid his respects and stood next to it for several minutes. He later met with Miriam Adelson and spoke with other family members to offer condolences.

“I look around, Sheldon, at our children, at our grandchildren, at our friends, at the businesses we built, the charities, the historic political achievements. This will last,” Miriam Adelson said in her Friday eulogy. “They will prosper to the benefit of all of humanity, and they will proudly bear your name and follow in your example.”

Boaz Bismuth is editor-in-chief of Israel Hayom. The Adelson family owns Israel Hayom, Israel’s most-read daily newspaper, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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