At the memorial service for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, attended by world leaders, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein eulogized the former South African President, likening him to the biblical figure Joseph for his ability and willingness to forgive. “Joseph emerged from jail to become a leader and head of government of a mighty nation. He was reunited with his brothers and had the opportunity to exact vengeance and justice and yet Joseph transcended his personal pain and his need for retribution by forgiving his brothers so that his family won’t be torn apart and destroyed forever,” Goldstein said to a crowd of thousands.
Leading an interfaith prayer service, Chief Rabbi Goldstein recalled Mandela’s ability “to embrace his brothers and sisters who inflicted so much pain on him and millions of others.”
The memorial also featured eulogies from U.S. President Obama, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Cuba’s Raul Castro and China’s vice president Li Yuanchao. Leaders spanning the globe, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, were also in attendance, as were former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Tuesday also happened to be the 20th anniversary of the day when Mandela and South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, F.W. de Klerk, received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to bring peace to their country.