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Reform Movement Mourns the Loss of Nelson Mandela

"His unjust decades-long imprisonment made him a symbol of the horrors of apartheid. Yet by using his influence after being liberated to champion human rights for all, reconciliation for his divided country, and to lead his nation into a new democratic era, Mr. Mandela inspired the world."
- Rabbi David Saperstein

Contact: Sean Thibault or Deborah Goldberg
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org


WASHINGTON, D.C. December 5, 2013— In response to the death of former South African President and human rights icon Nelson Mandela, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:

Today we mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela, a tireless champion of human rights and social justice. The passion and personal strength that President Mandela brought to his political activism and to his leadership of South Africa have had an unparalleled effect on that nation and, indeed, the world.

We read in the Talmud’s discussion of Shabbat that, "One man’s candle may serve as a light for many," and few embodied these words as did Mr. Mandela. His unjust decades-long imprisonment made him a symbol of the horrors of apartheid. Yet by using his influence after being liberated to champion human rights for all, reconciliation for his divided country, and to lead his nation into a new democratic era, Mr. Mandela inspired the world.

The connections between the Jewish community and Mr. Mandela and his ANC were deep and long-lasting. From the very beginning of the ANC a significant number of its white leaders were Jews, as were those who set up the lawyers committee for freedom that for decades provided such extensive legal services to the anti-apartheid movement. Those friendships lasted a lifetime and the overwhelming number of Jews in South Africa were strong and passionate proponents of the anti-apartheid movement in no small measure because of Mr. Mandela’s character and leadership.

Nelson Mandela was a true hero, rejecting enmity, despair, and violence. May his memory be a blessing and may his story continue to be an inspiration for generations to come."



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