Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein on Tuesday participated in a host of activities as part of Open House at the Israeli parliament to mark the Knesset`s 67th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the parliament building in Jerusalem.

One of the main events was a panel titled ”Twice Edelstein”, in which Knesset Speaker Edelstein and the coach of Israel`s national basketball team, Erez Edelstein, discussed leadership, sports, politics and the connection between them. The panel, which was held in the Knesset auditorium with hundreds of people in attendance, was be hosted by MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Camp), a former sportscaster.

”The feeling of success one gets after passing a law is similar to the sense of victory after winning an important game,” Edelstein said. ”If it was up to me, I would cut a few players from the Knesset`s team. Every now and then unworthy acts are done in the Knesset, and this taints the vast work that is being done and the good relations with the public.”

Open House at the Knesset: Speaker Edelstein, national basketball team coach discuss leadership, sports and politics

From left: Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, MK Zouheir Bahloul and Erez Edelstein

The Knesset speaker argued that parliament must oversee the government`s work more closely. ”The supervision is lacking, because MKs who are supposed to do it are politically weak when facing the ministers,” he said.

Coach Edelstein said the Knesset speaker`s success, ”despite all the hardships he has endured throughout his life,” proves that dreams come true.

Also during Open House, Speaker Edelstein and MK Orly Levi-Abekasis (Yisrael Beitenu) spoke with elementary school children, who were asked to propose new laws. The students suggested that the Knesset pass a law that would make a half-hour of physical activity each morning mandatory; a law that would help children ”who are sensitive to certain kinds of food”; a law for global peace; a law that would ban big brothers from playing soccer inside the house; and a law that would make every day Shabbat, but without closing grocery stores. Edelstein explained to the children that legislation is not always required, and that sometimes it is preferable to conduct dialogue and reach an agreement.

Open House at the Knesset: Speaker Edelstein, national basketball team coach discuss leadership, sports and politics

Speaker Edelstein with children during Open House at the Knesset

Later, Edelstein hosted in his office sixth graders from the Beit Hakerem School in Jerusalem, and together with author Yehuda Atlas he read to them from one of Atlas` books, which deals with conducting dialogue with a bully. ”I grew up as a child in Russia, in a city of work-weary families, and I was the only Jew in class, with a last name that was foreign to the other children. But when I showed them my customs and explained their importance, I was no longer bothered.”

Edelstein also told the children that when people complain to him about the behavior of Knesset members and demand his intervention, he replies that he is doing the best he can but also stresses that, unfortunately, such behavior reflects daily life in Israel. ”If an MK will know that the public will punish him or her for such behavior, it would stop immediately. But if there are those within the public who encourage such behavior, it will be very difficult to make it stop,” Edelstein told the kids.

Click here for a list of the Open House events at the Knesset