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December 5, 2013 8:24 pm

Jewish Groups Mourn Death of Nelson Mandela

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Frederik de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 1992. Photo: World Economic Forum.

JNS.org – Nelson Mandela, a revered South African leader who was instrumental in the fight against Apartheid and is widely considered to be the father of modern South Africa, died Thursday at the age of 95.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father,” South African President Jacob Zuma said, CNN reported.

Jewish organizations have joined the global community in mourning Mandela. “Nelson Mandela will be long remembered as one of the greatest figures of his generation and one of the most inspirational and effective freedom-fighting figures in modern history,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a statement.

“During the years of his trials and tribulations, the Jewish community of South Africa supported him, and when he sought freedom Mandela returned the friendship and appreciation,” Foxman added.

Mandela became the first president of democratic South Africa in 1994 after having been imprisoned for 27 years under the Apartheid regime. “As president, Mandela worked to create a multicultural society after years of minority rule. His new government in post-apartheid South Africa wrote a new constitution, investigated human rights abuses by the previous regime, tackled the issue of racism in his country and focused on helping the poor and disenfranchised,” B’nai B’rith International said in a statement.

“As Jews, we honor every year the miracle of freedom, teaching our children that ‘we were once slaves in the land of Egypt. Mandela’s life embodied a personal and national journey from subjugation to freedom. We are indelibly inspired by his example and can say of him, as we can say of few others, that he truly helped repair the world,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

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