Dr. Melville Edelstein – The Life and Death of a Mentch and a Hero
On June 16, 2017, the documentary film Remembering Dr Melville Edelstein – the life & death of a Good Man was screened at Beit Hatfutsot, to mark the 41st anniversary to the uprising in Soweto, South Africa, a defining event that began the demise of the Apartheid regime in that country.
Dr. Edelstein was an unsung hero who fought the injustice in his homeland, in his constructive, quiet way, as a social worker in Soweto. Dr. Edelstein was the grandfather of Sarah Rosenthal who won an award in 2016 for her My Family Story project, “Jacket of Hope”.
Shana Rosenthal, Sarah’s mother, brought the film to our attention. The film was broadcasted on South Africa’s national TV on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the Soweto uprising during which Melville Edelstein was killed by the people he served for many years. The film depicts the stirring family story of a Zionist, who made Aliyah, but returned to Johannesburg at the urging of Paula and David Ben Gurion whom he befriended in Sde Boker, to tend to his family. It touches upon the history of the Jewish community and of South Africa.
Members of the extended Edelstein family from Johannesburg and Israel attended and engaged in a discussion following the screening. One of Dr. Edelstein nephews described him as a thought leader and highlighted the uniqueness of the Jewish story which is based on a revolution of thought.