Chief Rabbi of South Africa pays tribute to Mandela

Nelson Mandela and Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

Nelson Mandela and Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

South Africa's Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein, has paid a moving tribute to the country's former president Nelson Mandela.

Rabbi Goldstein conveyed the traditional Jewish greeting to mourners to Mr Mandela's family and said the South African community had enjoyed a "long, close and meaningful relationship" with the statesman.

"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," he said.

"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.

"And so we mourn his loss together with our fellow South Africans and with all people across the world. Our hearts are, however, filled with gratitude for the unique blessing of his great life which we in South Africa were especially privileged to experience so closely.

"Judaism teaches that the best way to pay tribute to those who have passed on is to do good deeds in their honour. 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."

"Giant of humanity"

Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said Mr Mandela had been a "giant of humanity".

"A man of unflinching courage and unswerving principle, of boundless compassion and the profoundest humility, Nelson Mandela epitomised the miracle of South Africa’s democratic transformation," she said.

"Many heroic men and women played their part in bringing about the triumph of justice and democracy in South Africa, but the name of Nelson Mandela towers above them all.

"May his noble example inspire the people of South Africa to strive to follow in his footsteps and may his memory be a blessing for all humanity."

Ms Kahn said special synagogue services would be held across the country in Mr Mandela's memory.

Last updated: 3:47pm, December 6 2013