Yuli and Talya Edelstein
Yuli and Talya EdelsteinRabbi Y. Shochat

An original prayer book, an art exhibition of a Hevron artist and a Knesset Speaker codenamed Baal HaTanya at Yud-Tet Kislev celebrations.

Chabad's annual Yud Tet Kislev holiday will be commemorated this week in a number of memorable ways.

The main event will be held this coming Wednesday and Thursday at the Jerusalem Convention Center (JCC, Binyanei HaUmah). The original copy of the prayerbook of the famed Maggid of Mezritch will be on display there, together with other rare manuscripts. The prayerbook's full story has never been told, though it is known that the holy book passed through many hands.

Also on display will be a first-edition of the classic Hassidic work "Noam Elimelekh," by R. Elimelekh of Lizensk, printed in 1787. 

From more modern times, an exhibition of the colorful, Biblical paintings of Hevron artist Baruch Nachshon will be held at the JCC event. Inside the main auditorium, popular Jewish music singers Avraham Fried, Amir Benayoun, and others will be performing. In a side hall, dozens of tables will be piled high with classic Hassidic works, which will be sold at bargain prices.

At another Yud-Tet Kislev event, organized by the Chabad Center of Talbiya, Jerusalem, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein will appear in the Great Synagogue in the capital. Edelstein will have an emotional reunion at the Tuesday night event with the son of the rabbi who married him and his wife Tanya in Moscow in 1984. Shortly after the marriage, Edelstein was sentenced to three years at hard labor in a Siberian gulag on trumped-up charges.

The secret wedding was performed by the late Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet, a Chabad emissary from Canada to the Soviet Union. Once married, Edelstein took on a special code name among the Hassidim of Moscow: Baal HaTanya.

The name was unique in that it refers to the author of the Tanya, the groundbreaking work of Hassidic thought written by the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. "Baal" also means "husband" - very appropriate for the man who had just become the husband of Tanya. Tragically, Tanya Edelstein fell ill and died earlier this year.

Edelstein was released in 1985, and he and his wife immediately made Aliyah – never imagining that within 30 years he would become the Speaker of Israel's Knesset. Nor did he likely imagine that he would celebrate the 216th anniversary of the Rebbe's release from Russian Czarist prison with Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of London – son of the rabbi who performed his clandestine marriage in Moscow, and the Guest of Honor at the Jerusalem event.

The Great Synagogue event is being organized by Rabbi Eli and Chana Canterman of the Talbiya Chabad Center.