Miriam Adelson to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom


(JTA) — Miriam Adelson, a physician who has partnered with her husband, the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, in directing donations to the Republican Party, medical research, and pro-Israel and Jewish causes, was named one of seven recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The recipients announced Friday are the first to be honored by President Donald Trump.

The announcement called Miriam Adelson “a committed doctor, philanthropist and humanitarian” who 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.” It also noted that with her husband, she 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,” the announcement also said.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest honor for a civilian.

The Adelsons poured more than $100 million of donations into this federal election cycle in support of Republican candidates. Sheldon Adelson was among the biggest givers to Trump’s presidential campaign and his inauguration. The couple watched the midterm election returns with Trump at the White House.

The other living recipients of the medal, which will be bestowed on Nov. 16, are Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who is retiring after more than four decades in the Senate; Alan Page, a retiring  justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court as well as a Pro Football Hall of Famer; and Roger Staubach, a Hall of Fame quarterback who was cited for his charitable contributions as well as his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Posthumous honors were granted to Elvis Presley, who according to the White House “defined American culture to billions of adoring fans around the world”; Babe Ruth, the Yankee slugger who set baseball records that stood for decades; and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Previous presidents have bestowed the honor on philanthropists, including Brooke Astor, the society matron who disbursed her considerable fortune to causes mostly within New York City; Nancy Goodman Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen, the breast cancer foundation; and Bill and Melinda Gates, who head the world’s biggest private philanthropy organization.

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