The Jewish contribution to Nevada history is legendary, but it didn’t begin and end with wiseguys like Bugsy Siegel and Moe Dalitz. As Jews in Nevada, an hourlong documentary airing at 7 p.m. April 15 on Vegas PBS, shows, the Jewish role here spans 150 years, from Silver King Adolph Sutro (whose tunnel into the mountains fueled the Comstock Lode) to Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson (whose unrelenting march into Asia is exporting a peculiar version of the Vegas dream). Produced by Patty Zubov, the show is an adaptation of University of Nevada, Reno emeritus history professor John Marschall’s similarly named 2008 book.
Viewers will see the scope of Las Vegas newspaper publisher Hank Greenspun’s civil-rights battle against the socially intolerant U.S. Sen. Pat McCarran, D-Nev., as well as gain insight into the mythologies surrounding Siegel, Meyer Lansky and the Flamingo.
But the film also gives attention to the accomplishments of less famous residents, sharing stories of how, both historically and today, Jews have been inspired by the powerful concept of tikkun olam—the imperative to heal and repair the world.