Jews Pay Emotional Tribute to Nelson Mandela, 'Joseph' of South Africa

Thousands Pack Johannesburg Shul as Nation Mourns

Miora Rajaonary

By Dave Goldiner

Published December 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Jewish South Africa paid an emotional tribute Sunday to Nelson Mandela — a man they dubbed the rainbow nation’s Joseph for overcoming apartheid to build a future based on reconciliation.

Speaking to an overflow crowd of several thousand people in a Johannesburg suburb, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein recounted the Biblical story of Joseph, who overcame years of imprisonment to lead his nation.

Goldstein said the tale — which is remarkably this week’s Torah portion — mirrors the story of Mandela, who famously set aside 27 years of imprisonment on the to reach out to all South Africans.

“In Nelson Mandela, we found our own Joseph,” Goldstein said. “He was able to put aside all the bitterness from those long years of imprisonment and rebuild this country.”

He noted that most of South Africa’s 70,000 Jews immigrated from Eastern Europe in the face of pogroms and anti-Semitism, making the freedom and democracy of the new “rainbow nation” that much more precious to them.

“These are blessings that our history as Jews tells us to never take for granted,” he said.

Synagogue services were also planned in Cape Town, Durban and other main cites. The tributes came as millions of South Africans gathered in churches, mosques, shuls and temples to honor the beloved world leader.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.