Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Keeping Matters in Proportion

Binyamin Rose

Yuli Edelstein views the challenges of Jewish life from the same prism, whether as Speaker of the Knesset or as a refusenik languishing in a Soviet labor camp. In this exclusive interview, Edelstein said if there’s one lesson life has taught him, it’s that no matter where he is, a Jew always stands up for his principles.

Monday, September 02, 2013

You can usually discern a lot about a man from the pictures and memorabilia that decorate the walls of his office.

In the case of Yuli (Yoel) Edelstein, who earned a coveted space with panoramic views ofJerusalemasIsrael’s speaker of the Knesset, photographs of Jonathan Pollard and Nelson Mandela play prominently.

If anyone can relate to the plight of these two men incarcerated for some of the best years of their lives, it is Edelstein, who spent two years in Soviet labor camps for the high and treasonable “crime” of teaching Hebrew to his fellow Soviet Jews.

“It taught me to always be humble,” says Edelstein, casting a furtive glance over his left shoulder at the pictures.

The prison experience also taught Edelstein to internalize the belief that things can always change for the better. That attitude applies when dealing with tormentors like Soviet gulag guards trying to break their subjects with mental or physical torture, or negotiating with diplomats trying to sweet-talkIsraelinto subdividing its homeland.

Edelstein survived the anguish of the gulag, although it took many acts of self-control to avoid lashing out at his Soviet persecutors. “It’s not that I’m such an optimist, but normal behavior is to try to really live for today in order to get to tomorrow,” says Edelstein. “One thing that you learn, and it’s relevant to many other issues, is that a normal person always wants to survive, and I think that the Jewish People are the champions of that.”


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

When Tragedy Strikes
Shoshana Friedman What are we giving and what are we getting?
One Nation, Divisible
Yonoson Rosenblum Israel isn’t yet suffocated by political correctness
Not Just Politics
Yisroel Besser We’re fighting over something that means the world to us
Are We There Yet?
Alexandra Fleksher Striving for the same thing: to be servants of Hashem
Top 5 Yeshivish Business Ventures
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Different answers to “So, what is it you do?”
Work/Life Solutions with Mois Navon
Moe Mernick “When you set a goal, it’s going to take lots of effort”
Were They Orthodox Jews?
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman This is why I asked, “What difference does it make?”
You Get What You Pay For
Jacob L. Freedman “Get me a real doctor from Harvard who speaks Persian!”
Tunes That Take Me Back, with Levy Falkowitz
Riki Goldstein “It’s amazing how strong music memories are”
All Rivers Wind Up in the Sea
Riki Goldstein Your heartbeat will slow down listening to the new album
Faigy Peritzman A name symbolizes the essence inherent within
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Inject positivity into your marriage to counter burnout
The Game of Life
Rebbetzin Suri Gibber Use your competitive spirit to score high in life
The Musician Part II
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer “It’s an integrative therapy approach. Not boot camp”