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.
CAPTCHA
Message


 
Out with the Girls
Yonoson Rosenblum Another progressive revolution that eats its own
And I Will Glorify Him
Eytan Kobre Herman Wouk “made G-d a bestseller”
What You've Learned
Alexandra Fleksher Allow me to let you in on what school is all about
Going Broke
Mishpacha Readers Reader feedback for “The Kids Are Going to Camp..."
Top 5 Ways Jews Try to Lose Weight
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Gaining weight and talking about losing weight
He Soaked Up Our Pain
Rabbi Yaakov Klein A tribute to Reb Shlomo Cheshin ztz”l
Leaving on a High Note
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman And then it happened. I knew it would
Family Matters
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP Not the answers they teach in medical school
Play the Night Away
Riki Goldstein May we all share simchahs, no strings attached!
Fast Thinking
Faigy Peritzman How we react when we're exempt from a mitzvah
Baalat Teshuvah
Rachel Karasenti Don’t ask, “So how did you become frum?”
Confessions of a PhD Graduate
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When it comes to parenting, we’re always learning
Dear Favorite Little Sis
Anonymous I ended up wanting to be like you
Who's Making My Phone Calls?
Sara Eisemann Should I be upfront that I’m calling for myself?