JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (JTA) — The highest profile Jewish delegation ever to visit the African continent is in South Africa meeting with government leaders and local Jews.
Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress on Tuesday began their four-day visit, which also includes meetings with prominent businesspeople.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies, the representative body of the South African Jewish community, arranged a series of meetings and events for the 70-member group.
The group will meet Thursday with cabinet members and Helen Zille, the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, as well as former President F.W. de Klerk, who lifted the ban on Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress and on the same date 20 years ago released Mandela from prison.
On Wednesday they traveled to Cape Town for a dinner addressed by Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel. She delivered a message from Mandela, who at the age of 91 travels little.
On Tuesday the group met with senior African National Congress officials at Lilliesleaf Farm in Johannesburg, where most of the men who went on trial with Mandela in the early 1960s for committing acts of sabotage were arrested.
Presidents Conference Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein, as well as Euro-Asian Jewish Congress President Alexander Mashkevich, are leading the delegations.