Lily Judith Pokvidz was born to a Jewish-American family in San Francisco, California. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1936 from Hunter College. That same year, she married Nathan Edelman, with whom she had one child. Lily Edelman earned an M.A. from Columbia University and a diploma in adult education from Columbia University Teachers College. She became a leading authority on adult education and multiculturalism. She taught adult education courses, wrote book reviews, and edited anthologies. Among her multicultural educational writings were Mexican Mural Painters and Their Influence in the United States (1938), Music in China and Japan: Classroom Material (1940), and The People of India, Who They Are, How They Live, What They Like, What They Are Thinking (1943). Lily Edelman worked as a freelance writer and editor for the U.S. State Department in the Overseas Information Program, and served as the executive secretary of the National Academy for Adult Jewish Studies in New York City. In 1957, she joined the staff of B’nai B’rith and held a series of positions that joined her interest in adult education with her interest in writing and editing. In 1970, she worked with Elie Wiesel to translate from the French A Beggar in Jerusalem and One Generation After. Drawing upon her own cultural heritage, she wrote a popular children’s book, The Sukkah and the Big Wind (1956), and Israel: New People in an Old Land (1958), based on her many trips to Israel.