Two years after the death of Nelson Mandela, the shine seems to have gone out of the self-described
“rainbow nation.” When we hear of South Africa in the news we hear of economic crisis, poor
leadership, populist politics, police brutality, and xenophobic violence. South Africa’s foreign policy is
also worrisome, cozying up to China, hosting a Hamas delegation, and flirting with the BDS
movement. Is there any realistic hope for a Jewish future in South Africa?
Adam Mendelsohn is Director of the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at the University
of Cape Town, the only center of its kind in Africa. He is the author of The Rag Race (2015), winner of
the National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies; and co-editor of Jews and the Civil War:
A Reader (with Jonathan D. Sarna, 2011) and Transnational Traditions (with Ava Kahn, 2014).
Professor Mendelsohn taught in the Jewish Studies Program at the College of Charleston from 2008-