web analytics
October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Rabbi Yosef Mendelevitch, Pioneering Russian Refusenik


Rabbi Mendelevitch and Avital Sharansky meet then-President Reagan and Vice President Bush.

Rabbi Mendelevitch and Avital Sharansky meet then-President Reagan and Vice President Bush.
Photo Credit: White House archives

Freedom

YM: What happened the day you were released? Did they just walk in the room and say “gather your stuff and get out of here”?

RYM: They didn’t say anything. One day they just flew me from the prison camp in the Ural Mountains to Moscow. But they wouldn’t explain the reason why all of the sudden they did this. I was incarcerated there for two weeks without any explanations. I finally assumed that this was just another attempt to break me. Then all of a sudden they declared that according to the decision of the parliament they revoked my Soviet citizenship and they’re throwing me out of the country, like a scoundrel. They said I never deserved to be a Soviet citizen, so they told me to just go away.

YM: I’m sure you cried at losing your citizenship!

RYM: Certainly! I cried from excitement that I was finally going to Israel. At that moment I was put in a big black car and taken to the airport to an airplane that was waiting to take me to Israel.

YM: Did your family that was back in Riga come to Israel as well?

RYM: My mother died when I was a child and my father died while I was in prison. My three sisters came to Israel immediately after my arrest as part of the first 17,000 that got permission to leave.

Reflections on Israel

YM: After all you fought for and suffered for the Jewish people what are your thoughts in Israel now that you’ve been here for roughly thirty years?

RYM: Our struggle was to come to Israel and to become a part of Israel, with all the problems and issues. So in that respect I’m happy because I feel we succeeded. Also on a personal level I’ve been able to fulfill my dream of learning in a yeshiva.

The moment I stepped out of the airplane in Lod Airport in Israel an Israeli reporter came up to me and asked, “What do you envision as the future of the State of Israel?” I immediately answered with the biblical verse that Israel is to become “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” So he immediately closed his microphone since he probably thought to himself, “another extremist has arrived!”

Although it’s true that as a people and as a country we’re still very far from that, we hope it will change, as it can change at any moment. I’m very optimistic. Although we’re familiar with the problems and shortcomings, we have to open our eyes and see the positive process in am yisrael and in the State of Israel.

YM: What are the main areas or problems that need to be rectified in order to see your vision realized?

RYM: I think more than anything we’re lacking real national leaders. Of course we have Torah giants but they’re mainly good in teaching or setting rules and laws but not too good in providing real leadership and vision for this complicated reality we live in.

YM: Do you think there’s any chance that within the next twenty years someone who is a leader imbued with real Jewish idealism and vision can become Prime Minister of Israel?

RYM: I’m not sure, for in addition to vision and ideals such a person needs to be real strong so that when he becomes part of the political game he won’t be corrupted. A lot of people started out with high aspirations but the moment they entered this field everything changed.

In order to progress in the political realm you have to cooperate and make compromises, otherwise people will say you’re not realistic. So we need someone who is ready to not be realistic! In order to change the situation here we need a big transformation and for that we need a big dreamer. We need someone that people will look at, at least in the beginning, and say “What is he talking about? He’s not realistic.” This of course is the opposite of someone like Ariel Sharon who once said “Okay, I was an idealist but the moment I got to the top of the stairs I see the difference.” We need someone who will reach the top floor and stay the same. For such a person I’m more than ready to help.

About the Author: Yoel Meltzer is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem. He can be contacted via http://yoelmeltzer.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Rabbi Yosef Mendelevitch, Pioneering Russian Refusenik”

  1. Tzvi Fishman says:

    Rabbi Mendelevitch is indeed a true Jewish hero. His book "Unbroken Spirit" should be read by everyone. Especially by our young people who are so desperate for true Jewish heroes of bravery, idealism, and substance. I recommend the book highly.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Do you know where your vegetables grow?
Not So Kosher Shemittah L’Mehadrin
Latest Indepth Stories
Eller-102414-Cart

I had to hire a babysitter so that I could go shopping or have someone come with me to push Caroline in her wheelchair.

Bills to restore the balance of power in Israel will be fought by the not-so-judicial left.

Widespread agreement in Israel opposing Palestinian diplomatic warfare, commonly called “lawfare.”

Chaye Zisel Braun

Arab terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel is not something we should be “calm” about.

Peace Now Chairman Yariv Oppenheimer

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

We were devastated: The exploitation of our father’s murder as a vehicle for political commentary.

Judea and Samaria (Yesha) have been governed by the IDF and not officially under Israeli sovereignty

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

n past decades, Oman has struck a diplomatic balance between Saudi Arabia, the West, and Iran.

The Torah scroll which my family donated will ride aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier

The Jewish Press endorses the reelection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His record as governor these past four years offers eloquent testimony to the experience and vision he has to lead the Empire State for the next four years.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

More Articles from Yoel Meltzer
Photo: Naftali Bennett

In less than three months time the Jewish Home Party, formerly known as the National Religious Party (NRP), will be holding its first ever internal primaries.

Ayelet Shaked

The co-founder and former chairman of the MyIsrael (Yisrael Sheli) national movement, the recipient of the 2012 Abramowitz Israeli Prize for Media Criticism and a close associate of Naftali Bennett – the two worked together in the office of Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the 2009 elections – Shaked is raising some eyebrows due to the fact that she, unlike Bennett, is a secular candidate for HaBayit Hayehudi -a traditionally religious party.

On his attempt to hijack an airplane in 1970 to bring attention to the struggle of Soviet Jewry: “Sometimes it happens in your life that you simply feel it’s the right thing to do.”

“We need to work on instilling a good strong Jewish-Zionist identity in all of the children in Israel and not only in the religious ones. In other words we need to stop looking inward and start focusing on all of Am Yisrael.”

Rabbi Zuriel: “With the ingathering of the exiles, we need a Sanhedrin to implement various changes since Judaism is a developing matter; it’s supposed to be dynamic. He showed me in one of his works twenty items that the Tosafot changed. Today however, he added, we’re like the Karaites, we don’t want to change.

For anyone who is sick of the lies and hypocrisy – be it in Israel or the world – and really wants to work for change, it’s not enough to simply stand on the street corner and shout the truth. How something is said or how someone looks while performing an act frequently has more impact than anything else in the eyes and ears of the viewer.

Most Israelis understand that the funding of Israeli organizations by foreign governments is a way to enable these governments to advance their agenda of delegitimizing Israel.

Commenting on the role the sovereign nation-state plays in the western world compared with the Islamic world, the late Samuel P. Huntington, in his classic study The Clash of Civilizations and The Remaking of World Order, wrote: “The structure of political loyalty among Arabs and among Muslims generally has been the opposite of that in the modern West. For the latter the nation state has been the apex of political loyalty.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/an-interview-with-rabbi-yosef-mendelevitch-pioneering-russian-refusenik/2012/06/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: