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Jewish Journal

Jewish organizations mourn loss of Mandela

by Ryan Torok

December 5, 2013 | 4:17 pm

Nelson Mandela in August 1996. Photo by Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Nelson Mandela in August 1996. Photo by Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Jewish organizations have expressed condolences over the passing of Nelson Mandela, the former South African president and anti-apartheid activist, saying that the world will miss a leader whose dedication to human rights resonated with Jewish values.

“Today, the entire world community mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela, a historic leader who transformed one of the most racist societies on earth into a democracy with a progressive constitution that respects the rights of all people,” said American Jewish World Service president Ruth Messinger.

“He proved that equal respect and treatment of every person is and must continue to be an achievable reality everywhere in the world. Nelson Mandela was a modern-day prophet for human dignity whose voice was heard around the world, and he inspired me and millions of other Jews with his message of quality for all,”

Mandela, who died on Dec. 5, was 95-years-old. Imprisoned in South Africa for 27 years before becoming the country’s first black president, he was one of “the most admired world leaders of our time, and he has been an example to all who aspire to positions of leadership,” read a statement by World Union for Progressive Judaism.

With his commitment to fighting on behalf of an oppressed minority, Mandela “came to embody courage in the face of severe injustice,” added Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Ultimately, Mandela, who has long been a source of inspiration for Jews worldwide, “will be remembered as one of the 20th century’s leading figures,” read a statement by B’nai B’rith International.

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