South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein on Friday said the Jewish community would mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at 95 years old.
“Today we are all mourners for we have lost a great leader. Our world is a sadder and emptier place without Nelson Mandela,” Rabbi Goldstein said, in a statement. “We, together with all South Africans, and indeed all of humanity, mourn with you the passing of our beloved Madiba, who was such a revered leader and exceptional and outstanding human being.”
South African Jews had “a long, close and meaningful relationship” with President Nelson Mandela, the rabbi wrote.
“It was a friendship that involved every stage of Mandela’s life, from his earliest days as a law student and an attorney’s articled clerk in Johannesburg. South African Jews were with Mandela as fellow liberation fighters and as lawyers defending him at the Rivonia trial, as visitors during his long and lonely years on Robben Island, and then in assisting in the exciting years of building the new South Africa.”
Judaism teaches that the best way to pay tribute to those who have passed on is to do good deeds in their honor, the rabbi said.
“The greatest tribute we can pay is to live like Mandela, in accordance with the values he practiced and taught – values of human dignity, forgiveness, kindness, courage, tenacity, strength, honesty and integrity.Let us all resolve to follow President Mandela’s inspiring moral legacy and let us commit to living in accordance with the values he taught us in the most eloquent and powerful sermon of all – his life.”