November 16, 2018


Amid the world wide focus on Nelson Mandela and his impact, I was reminded of an unforgettable encounter here in Los Angeles over twenty years ago between two extraordinary men—Nelson Mandela and Natan Sharansky—that I was privileged to be a small part of.

Tom Tugend of the Jewish Journal has “>meeting, Sharansky was obligated to go down to meet the press. So we went to the lobby floor and there was a throng of domestic and international press (including the Israeli press) awaiting the report on what the two men had had to say to each other. Sharansky was loquacious and open about his very friendly encounter Mandela.

My colleagues and I were watching our clocks and checking on Shabbat candle lighting time (around 7:45) to make sure we could get Sharansky out and back to Hancock Park on time—notwithstanding Friday evening traffic. We knew he was not interested in having a headline in an Israeli Sunday paper that he had violated the Shabbat.
We were forced to cut the press conference short and one of my colleagues (Marjorie Green) grabbed Sharansky and spirited him—violating every speed limit in the process—to Hancock Park—in time! He arrived with just a couple of minutes to spare.

He abided by both his moral and religious principles, met an incredibly important colleague in the struggle for freedom, and sent a wonderful message at the same time.

Bravo Sharansky, bravo Mandela.