The Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein and London Shliach Rabbi Yitzchok Schochet will be coming full circle next week in Jerusalem.

By COLlive reporter

When Rabbi Eli and Chana Canterman set out to launch a program for Yud Tes Kislev, they could not have anticipated the sequences of events that would follow. 

Last year, the Cantermans, who direct Chabad of Talbiya/Mamilla in Israel hosted a special lecture evening at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem in honor of the occasion. The lecture, where Rabbi YY Jacobson enthralled a crowd with Chassidus for over an hour and a half preceded by special music, particularly Chabad nigunim, was attended by more than six hundred people.

Hoping to repeat the success again this year, the Great Synagogue informed the Cantermans that the venue was unavailable due to renovations. Until two weeks ago, when they called again to say the building work was on hold and that the venue was available after all.

In true Chabad spirit the Cantermans didn’t consider the impossibility of the task with only two weeks to go, but rather the opportunity still available to them. Mrs. Canterman called several friends for a speaker suggestion. They had each separately heard Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, a renowned lecturer and Chabad Shliach in London and they each recommended him. Schochet was already booked for a communal event in Manchester on the night of Yud Tes Kislev but made himself available a couple of nights prior.

Hoping to add a little something extra to the event, the Cantermans also wrote to Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein. Having recently been guest speaker at the International Kinus Hashluchim, they felt it would be a nice touch inviting him as guest of honor. They were duly informed that he receives numerous such requests and that it would be highly unlikely he would attend.

Several days later Rabbi Schochet was out in London when a friend spotted him through a restaurant window, stopped his car and went inside to say hello. It was at that moment that a light-bulb went on. 

Aware that the Cantermans were trying to secure their guest of honor, Schochet asked this friend whether it was in fact Edelstein he had hosted when the three of them had lunch several years ago. When the friend confirmed in the affirmative, Schochet said, “I have a favor to ask you.” Several days later Yuli Edelstein confirmed he will be attending the event next week.

And here’s where the story takes on a particularly emotional twist.

Rabbi Schochet’s father, Rabbi Dr. Jacob Immanual Schochet - who passed away last year - was sent in 1984 on behalf of Chabad on a mission to the former USSR. Among his tasks there he conducted a secret Chupah for a refusenik named Yuli Edelstein and his wife Tanya.

A little while thereafter Yuli was arrested on trumped up charges and sentenced to hard labor in Siberia before he was eventually set free and emigrated to Israel.

"Thirty years on and Yuli today is Speaker of the Knesset," Schochet wrote on his Facebook page. 'I will have the personal privilege of sharing a podium with him next Tuesday (December 9th) in the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem."

Schochet noted that the 19th of Kislev is the day the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi was freed from his own prison "thus paving the way for the growth of Chabad which effectively resulted in my father and the Edelsteins meeting up all those years ago."

"I have no doubt the evening will be a true source of joy and nachas to both my father and Tanya - may their memories be for a blessing," Schochet added.

When Divine Providence is seen wavering its tapestry so manifestly, one can only expect that it will be a truly memorable evening.