The Miracle                                                                 

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It all started when Dr. Lawrence Copeland had a dream of a URJ Reform congregation on the west side of Las Vegas that dates back almost 30 years. After countless events and activities in which he funded buying books, cleaning toilets, personally making payrolls, lugging materials and arks to casino banquet facilities, and ultimately the goal to satisfy our responsibility to educate the next generation of Jewish children - all the while being on-call 24/7 – 52 weeks a year. – that dream never faltered. After a few false starts and years of meeting in storefronts, potluck meals, High Holy Day Services held in the rented banquet halls, part-time Rabbis hired, and Cantors rented for High Holy Days, here we are!

While he shared this dream with anyone who would listen, Dr. Copeland met a patient who heard his dream for Reform Judaism, which at that time was Adat Ari El and educating Jewish kids was the legacy he wanted for his life’s work. His patient was touched and impressed with Dr. Copeland’s conviction of someone who works 24/7 and does whatever is necessary to live out their other calling. The interested patient mentioned that he had a small charitable foundation and maybe he could help (what an understatement that proved out to be).

Simultaneously, Temple Beth Am met with Seymour Kaplan (1st Vice President), reflecting that they were interested in selling their campus to Adat Ari El and accommodating their members due to severe financial problems and possible imminent foreclosure. At this time, our angel’s help was in the form of financially guaranteeing a contract for a new relocating Rabbi for Adat Ari El.

Then the conversation got very serious as Temple Beth Am was cited in default of their mortgage, and their foreclosure was set for a date in May 2007. Adat Ari El then assumed the assets of our current campus on Hillpointe Road. The major cost was the assumption of a $4.5 million mortgage at 11%.

Now here is where it gets interesting, so try to follow this math:

  • Interest on a $4.5 million dollar mortgage at 11% = $41,250 a month. If you add monthly expenses for operating costs, they were over $75,000 monthly.
  • Membership numbers were sketchy, but let’s say there were collectively 130 paying members.
  • Adat Ari El had $300,000 in the bank; the math says the new Temple is broke in a few months.

The patient knew that Dr. Copeland could not personally sustain this kind of loss and wanted to find a way to eliminate the mortgage.

Armed with $1 million and a conviction to help Dr. Copeland, he set up an appointment with Sheldon Adelson to try and challenge him to donate 75% of the costs if his foundation put up the remainder to eliminate the mortgage. This meeting would be the first between these two, and a brief appointment was secured. I heard that this meeting lasted for hours, and while the funds were not given, our angel had great admiration and respect for Mr. Adelson and his work elsewhere. Mr. Adelson, thank you for saying no!

As our angel describes it, the rest of this story is genuinely “touched by the hand of G-d” on behalf of a doctor with a vision because the sequence of events is out of character for him. He left this meeting with Sheldon Adelson, having learned a lot about the immense philanthropic focuses he has and respected him on behalf of those activities benefitting Israel, Jewish Education and medical research and treatment, and while he left for Mr. Adelson.

In early 2009, the stock of the Venetian was plummeting from a high of $140 to under $2 a share in February 2009. Sheldon Adelson had more important things to tend to, but our angel donor believed that good things happen to good people like Mr. Adelson with his philanthropy and Dr. Copeland with his energy and dream. SO, he invested $1 million in Las Vegas Sands stock (Mr. Adelson’s Company).

This gamble paid off quickly as the company, and ultimately the stock recovered. We paid off the mortgage and had enough left over to finance the construction of our new campus.

Amazingly, had we raised the $4.5 million to eliminate the mortgage, while debt-free, we would never have had the ability to build anything. We would still be operating out of a makeshift social hall, with seven small classrooms and three trailers for offices.

When our angel was asked what he thinks, he replied he would never have taken any of these actions without being moved by Dr. Copeland’s selfless vision.

Finally, while there are still financial hurdles to overcome and hard decisions to make, our ultimate responsibility is what we do with this miracle opportunity that impacts the hundreds of students and 1000 congregants strong that make up the Temple Sinai community. And how we ethically make our congregation and community and the world a better place!

Thank you, Steve, Larry, Linda and Kappy, and especially, thanks to all of you.            

Rick Hollander
Temple Sinai Past President (2014-2016)