Rabbi Yosef Mendelvich,Wednesday, October 24th
7:45 pm at Seattle Kollel
“A Story of the strength of the human soul and an inspiration to us all.”
On June 15, 1970, a group of 16 refuseniks entered Smolnoye (later Rzhevka) Airport near Leningrad. Each one was holding a ticket for a local flight to Priozersk, presumably to attend a wedding. In reality, they planned to hijack the plane and fly it to Sweden, an act designed to raise awareness about the desperate plight of Soviet Jews. But as they entered the airfield for boarding, they were arrested and taken into custody by the Soviet secret police. One of those 16 refuseniks was a 22 year-old Latvian-born Jew named Yosef Mendelevich, who then served twelve years in the Soviet gulag. This is the story of one man’s resistance against tyranny, and his daily struggle to retain his Jewishness and his humanity in a system built to extinguish both.
Today, he is Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich, father and grandfather of a blessedly large family, Torah scholar, and director of the Russian-speaking programs of Jerusalem’s Machon Meir Yeshivah. For 40 years his face and name represented a cause uniting chassidim, Litvaks, and Mizrachim, organizations from Agudah to the World Jewish Congress, individuals from Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin to the Belzer Rebbe’s granddaughter.
Now, with his just-released book, Unbroken Spirit: A Heroic Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival (Gefen Publishing House), and a perspective that comes with new years of quiet, he can tell the story behind the story. No charge for this event, books available for purchase. Thank you for posting.
The Seattle Kollel