This breaking news from the JTA: Billionaire Sheldon Adelson pledged $25 million to birthright israel.

If you’re like me, you’re thinking, big deal. Didn’t he do that in December?

No. That was five million (donated by the the Adelson Family Charitable Foundation, founded by the majority owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson) which paid for 2,000 trips. This is twenty-five million, which will enable birthright to double the number of trips offered this year, from 10,000 to 20,000.

And that’s not the end of it:

According to a birthright spokesman, the foundation anticipates making similar $25 million gifts for the next several years.

Adelson is the third richest man in the world, after Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, and his worth is estimated at $20.5 quadzillion.

(OK, that should read “billion.” But after a certain dollar amount, I think all those words–billion, zillion, sesquicentillion–tend to sound made up.)

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see, and


  • Am I the only one who wishes that instead of putting all that money into Birthright, philanthropists were putting more cash into long-term Israel trips? Or even creating a second-stage short-length trips?

  • well yeah, there should be something for families to go as a family.

  • Masa exists for long term Israel stays.

    This is a generous and very kind gift. 20,000 Birthright guests per year is an amazing number, truly.

  • Maybe that will be the next level, Jason. But I think the idea is to create the initial connection, and then hope there’s enough interest that the participants will pursue ways to reconnect and get back there in varying capacities.

  • Indeed. And there are numerous opportunities for people who may not qualify for birthright to get to israel on thhe cheap – if that’s an issue. Check out or click on the livnot banner on the top of the page for discounted service oriented trips with extendable tickets.

  • OK, for 20K and the game, where’s the Adelson family’s shul? Just asking… Cheers & Good Luck! ‘VJ’

  • If we offered the kids a $2500 check or a trip to Israel, how many do you think would take the trip? As a community, can’t we think of a more creative way to spend $25 million? That’s a lot of money, especially when it doesn’t even go towards an endowment, it has to be given every year.

  • I think it’s a pretty creative and good use of the money, actually. Education for the young might be an alternative use of the funds, but that’s a different issue altogether.

  • VJ: Sheldon Adelson pretty much paid for the Chabad center in Las Vegas. Shall I send you an invoice for the 20k now?

    Dave: Yes. And if we offered Jewish families an annual check of $15,000 per school-age child, how many would use that to send their kids to a Jewish school? What’s your point?

  • What’s with all the haters?

    $25 mil for birthright is a great gift and there are lots of good things to do with the money.

    There is another $175 mil that he is giving away so why don’t you send your ideas to his foundation and try to fund the projects which you feel are most important.

  • I think that it is great, but I would like to see a more concerted effort to make a Jewish education more affordable.

    The cost of sending children to day school is out of sight.