The iPad mini does NOT require the latest operating system on your Mac to sync. But you must have at least OSX 10.6.8 also called Snow Leopard. Since that OSX there have been two more recent OSX including Lion and Mountain Lion.
If you can update to Snow Leopard contact Apple for the update. If your computer will not run OSX 10.6.8 the only choice you have is to use your iPad with the ability to sync.
It definitely pays to check OSX requirements before making the purchase.
To install Snow Leopard for the first time, you must have a Mac with:
An Intel processor
An internal or external DVD drive, or DVD or CD Sharing
At least 1 GB of RAM (additional RAM is recommended)
A built-in display or a display connected to an Apple-supplied video card supported by your computer
At least 5 GB of disk space available, or 7 GB of disk space if you install the developer tools
If your MacBook meets these requirement call Apple and ask about the system upgrade.