Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said losing a leader like former South African President Nelson Mandela leaves a "large void" that will take time to fill.
In a statement, Sharansky recalled a 1990 meeting with Madela, saying he was impressed by his ability to "look beyond the immediate results of his efforts" and to be able to see a bright future.
"Nelson Mandela was able to make a violent struggle, a peaceful fight for human rights," he said of Mandela's human rights advocacy in South Africa. "He managed to build bridges and foster collaborative relationships where this type were formerly considered impossible."
"I join all human rights activists in mourning his passing," Sharanksy said.