Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela’s Close Relationship With the South African Jews

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nelson mandela and the jews
The late philanthropist Mendel Kaplan showing late South Africa President Nelson Mandela around the South African Jewish Museum, which was opened by Mandela in 2000. (Shawn Benjamin/Ark Images)

In the early 1940s, at a time when it was virtually impossible for a South African of color to secure a professional apprenticeship, the Jewish law firm Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman gave a young black man a job as a clerk.

It was among the first encounters in what would become a lifelong relationship between Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s  bustling liberal  Jewish community, impacting the statesman’s life at several defining moments — from his arrival in Johannesburg from the rural Transkei region as a young man to his years of struggle, imprisonment and ascension to the presidency.

Mandela, who died Thursday at 95, wrote of the early job in his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” and acknowledged the disproportionate role…

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