Joseph (Yozef) Edelstein was born December 10, 1858 in Iasi, Romania. His father was a bookkeeper. As a small boy he went to "cheder". After completing "primary school" he attended a "gymnasium". His father lent money to arriving folk singers and actors from Goldfaden's troupe. He came into contact with the actors of the "Yiddish theater". He was married to Pauline Finkelstein, who also acted in the Yiddish theatres. They had one child, Isidore, who for a short time acted in the Yiddish theatres.
He and his wife emigrated to America in 1886. He became a ticket controller, and in 1889 He became the manager of the "Windsor Theatre". He was associated with David Kessler; Zigmund Feinman; Zigmund Mogulesko; Boris Thomashefsky; and Jacob Adler. He also managed the "Thalia Theatre", and the "Peoples Theatre".
In 1912 the "National Theatre" was built he entered into a partnership with Boris Thomashefsky, David Kessler, Max Wilner (1895-1956) in the National Theatre and "Second Avenue Theatre" in the Yiddish Theater District.
In 1919 he returned to become the manager of the Second Avenue Theatre until the 1931-1932 season. In the 1921-30 seasons he was partners with Joseph Rumshinsky, Jacob Kalich, Molly Picon, William Pasternak, Nathan Parnes and Max Seger, and one season with Maurice Schwartz.