It doesn’t take much to get Yuli Edelstein, the speaker of the Israeli Knesset, to reminisce about the times he spent with members of the Chabad-Lubavitch underground in the Soviet Union. They were dangerous times for Jews under the Soviet rule. Edelstein found himself in Siberia doing hard labor because he wanted to unite with his family in Israel.
“Anything that we needed related to Judaism, the people from Chabad were there to assist. It could be kosher food, a place to pray, assistance with tefillin, a circumcision, they were always there,” Edelstein said in an interview last year.
On November 23, Edelstein will share more of his memories of life in communist Russia as he delivers the guest presentation at the Annual International Conference of Chabad Shluchim. In a way, the refusenik is closing a circle: “I first met the Chabad activists in the Soviet Union when I knew little about my Judaism”
The Speaker of the Knesset is expected to speak as well about his present-day relationship with Chabad: “Wherever I go I meet Chabad representatives and utilize their assistance for my Jewish needs.”
Edelstein will share the podium with Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of the Chabad-Lubavitch educational and social services and longtime aide of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, and with Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov, Chabad representative to Wimbledon, UK.