Julius C. C. Edelstein was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 29, 1912. He studied at the University of Wisconsin from 1927-1934 (Law and Medicine), supporting himself through nespaper reporting. In 1937 he began working for the United Press covering U.S. territories and island possessions. His career in journalism continued until World War II when he secured an ensign's commission in the U.S. Navy. After training as a communications officer, he became assistant naval aide to Admiral William D. Leahy, later being promoted to naval aide. Between 1945 and 1947 he served as public affairs advisor to the U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines, Paul V. McNutt, and as personal advisor to the President of the Philippines, Manuel Roxas. In 1949, Edelstein became Senator Herbert H. Lehman's executive assistant and chief of legislative staff.
Senator Herbert H. Lehman believed in the ability of government to help those that can not help themselves. He fought for civil rights, displaced persons, affordable housing and voted against the popular anti-immigrant legislation. He was responsible for various social reforms such as minimum wage, unemployment insurance, public housing, medical care for the disabled and labor laws to protect workers. Edelstein championed these causes and became personally involved as well, researching and corresponding with numerous democratic constituents' and political figures. He was also a trustee of the National Committee on Immigration and Citizenship (NCIC), secretary for the New York Committee for Democratic Voters and a member of the American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee and Americans for Democratic Action (ADA).
In 1955, Edelstein married Rivka Ben-David. In 1956, Julius and Rivka's daughter Suzy was born. Rivka was an assistant military attaché to the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Edelstein continued to serve Lehman until 1960. In 1962, Edelstein became executive assistant to Mayor Robert F. Wagner.
While under Mayor Wagner, he served as executive secretary of the city's antipoverty board. When Robert F. Kennedy ran for the Senate, Mayor Wagner lent Mr. Edelstein to advise him on Jewish and Israeli issues. In 1965, Edelstein embarked on a career at the City University of New York (CUNY). He served as senior vice chancellor of CUNY until 1984 when he retired. He was the primary force behind open admissions at CUNY in the late 1960s, fighting for the economically disadvantaged so as to ensure they had access to an undergraduate education. In 2005, at the age of 93, Julius Edelstein died at New York Hospital.