On November 10, the White House announced the recipients of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom. The medal of freedom is the highest civilian honor awarded by the president; the White House awards to it “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
This year’s Medal of Honor recipients is an eclectic bunch. Elvis Presley is getting an award; so is Babe Ruth. The late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia is being honored. So is former Minnesota Supreme Court justice and football great Alan Page. Senator Orrin Hatch is also getting a medal.
One of this year’s recipients is raising eyebrows, at least among Trump’s critics: Miriam Adelson, a physician and researcher who is the wife of megadonor Sheldon Adelson. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Adelson Was Born & Raised in Israel & Holds a Medical Degree from Tel Aviv University
Adelson and her husband, Sheldon, are strong supporters of the state of Israel. They regularly donate to the Israel Air Force Foundation and the Zionist Organization of America, and AIPAC. Adelson was born and raised in Israel and graduated with honors from Sackler Medical School at Tel Aviv University.
She moved to the United States to join Rockefeller University, in New York City. There, she specialized in internal medicine and began researching chemical dependency. She is now the chairman at the Dr. Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse Treatment and Research. The White House, announcing Adelson’s upcoming award, described her as “a committed doctor, philanthropist, and humanitarian” and a “committed member of the American Jewish community.”
2. Miriam & Sheldon Adelson Donated 55 Million Dollars to Conservative PACs in September
Sheldon Adelson made his fortune as a casino owner. He is the founder and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns casinos in Las Vegas, Singapore, and Macau. Forbes estimates his net worth at 31.8 billion dollars.
Sheldon and Miriam are leading donors to Republican and conservative causes. In the run-up to the midterm elections this year, they donated tens of millions of dollars to Republican and conservative causes. Over the course of a two-day period on September, the couple donated 55 million dollars to three conservative PACs: the Senate Leadership Fund; the Congressional Leadership Fund; and America First Action.
3. Miriam & Sheldon Adelson Went to the White House to Watch the Midterm Results with Trump
On November 6, a small group of loyal Trump supporters gathered at the White House to watch the midterm election results roll in. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson were among the people there, according to the Times of Israel. The Times of Israel also reports that Sheldon Adleson was on-hand at the opening, this year, of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Adelson was a strong supporter of Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Jerusalem from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Palestinians, and many Arab governments, opposed the move, since both Palestinians and Israelis claim Jerusalem as their capital).
The Times of Israel says that Miriam and Sheldon donated $112,250,000 to Republicans ahead of the midterm elections. The couple also donated to Trump’s 2016 campaign.
4. Miriam Adelson Specializes in Treating Drug Addiction
Miriam and Sheldon Adelson first met in the early 90s, in New York City. Both had children from previous marriages. Adelson’s two sons both suffered from substance abuse issues. One of the two sons, Mitchell, eventually died of an overdose.
Miriam’s specialty is treating drug abuse and substance abuse problems. She is now the chairman of the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adleson Clinic for Drug Abuse Treatment and Research. In its announcement that Adelson will be awarded the Medal of Freedom, the White House described her as follows:
“Miriam Adelson is a committed doctor, philanthropist, and humanitarian. She has practiced internal and emergency medicine, studied and specialized in the disease of narcotic addiction, and founded two research centers committed to fighting substance abuse. With her husband, Sheldon, she also established the Adelson Medical Research Foundation, which supports research to prevent, reduce, or eliminate disabling and life-threatening illness. As a committed member of the American Jewish community, she has supported Jewish schools, Holocaust memorial organizations, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and Birthright Israel, among other causes.”
5. Miriam Adelson’s Parents Fled Poland Ahead of the Holocaust & Settled in Haifa
The 72 year old Miriam Adelson was born before Israel became a state (in 1948). Her parents, Menucha and Simha Farbstein, were Polish Jews who fled their homeland before the Holocaust. They resettled in Haifa, in what was then Mandatory Palestine and later became the State of Israel. Fortune Magazine reports that for years of Miriam’s childhood, the family was not well-off and did not own a television, although Miriam’s father went on to open a string of movie theatres.
Adelson earned a BS in Microbiology and Genetics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before going on to earn a medical degree from Tel Aviv University. She performed two years of military service in Israel, and during that time she worked in the biological research department. Adelson became the chief internist in an emergency room at the Rokach Hospital in Tel Aviv before moving to New York City to work at Rockefeller University. She specializes in studying chemical dependency. She is now the chairman at the Dr. Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse Treatment and Research.