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!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • 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.