Sylvan Adams, aged 60, is a Canadian-born businessman, philanthropist and amateur cycling champion. Adams served as the CEO of Montreal-based real estate firm Iberville Developments, and was the sole shareholder of Summit International Bank. In 2016, Sylvan made Aliyah, settling in Tel Aviv with his wife Margaret.
Since moving to Israel, Sylvan has quickly integrated and devoted himself to serving his country, as his calling card reads: “Self-appointed Ambassador at large for the State of Israel”. The citizens of Israel, Israeli government officials, and foreign dignitaries have recognized Sylvan’s steadfast commitment to promoting Israel and enhancing the daily lives of its citizens.
Sylvan is the only Israeli member of the Giving Pledge, an organization begun by Warren Buffet together with Bill and Melinda Gates for billionaires committed (in writing, as signers of the “pledge”) to give away the majority of their wealth to philanthropic pursuits.
Sylvan’s philanthropic investments are focused on two themes:
- Promotion of Israel both abroad and internally, through innovative, non-polemical means, such as sport and cultural activities.
- Promotion of Jewish Identity in the diaspora, or as he likes to call it, “ensuring Jewish grandchildren.”
His projects in Israel include the creation of a sports excellence institute at Tel Aviv University (where he is a Vice-Chair) aimed at converting Israeli athletic potential into Olympic medals, the construction of a children’s hospital at Wolfson Hospital in Holon to serve underprivileged children, revolutionizing the field of emergency medicine with a new emergency room at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, a project to supply laptops to special education teachers, and a scholarship program for promising artists. He is also the driving force behind Tel Aviv’s Sylvan Adams commuter bicycle path network, which he envisions as a step along the path to transforming his city into an Amsterdam of the Middle East.
In particular, he has worked tirelessly to promote coexistence, peace, and national pride through sports in Israel. Sports enable people from different races, religions, and ethnicities to come together and compete with respect and friendship.
He is a co-owner of Israel’s first professional cycling team, Israeli Cycling Academy, founded in 2014, which competes all over the world as an ambassador for the home country. He is also behind the establishment of the first cycling velodrome in the Middle East, featuring a state of the art 250-meter wooden track, nearing completion at the Olympic Center in Tel Aviv. Sylvan plans to invite athletes from Israel’s neighboring countries to train and compete in the velodrome. Additionally, the Sylvan Adams National Velodrome will host the 2021 Junior World Track Cycling championships, one of many international events this facility will offer.
Sylvan’s commitment to sport as a vehicle for peace was exemplified by his bringing the Giro d’Italia Big Start to Israel, literally (as bike races take place outdoors) showing off the entire country, from north to south, to nearly a billion television viewers. This was the largest event ever to be held in the country, and the first time a Cycling Grand Tour has competed outside of Europe.
Abroad, Sylvan’s commitment to Jewish identity is largely focused on Jewish education, as he believes that young secular Jews must know the beauty and worldwide impact of their people’s history and culture in order to impart contemporary relevance and pride in their heritage. Using his native Montreal as his “laboratory”, he recently inaugurated the Sylvan Adams Herzliah High School in Montreal offering, through a dignified and discrete online tuition assistance model, affordable Jewish education, that he hopes to export to other North American communities. Adams has also donated to other Montreal institutions such as the YMHA and the Yaldei Centre for Developmentally challenged youth.