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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thousands attend memorial rally for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Thousands attended a memorial service in Jerusalem Tuesday to mark the one-month anniversary of the death of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, an outspoken leader of Sephardi Jewry who passed away in October at age 93.

The service was held at the intersection of Shmuel Hanavi and Yehezkiel streets, near the Sanhedria cemetery where the esteemed rabbi was laid to rest last month.

Former Shas party chairman Eli Yishai eulogized Yosef at the event, comparing him to biblical figures such as Moses and Aharon.

Liberally peppering his words with quotes from the Bible and the Talmud, Yishai compared Yosef’s death to that of Aharon, who was “mourned for 30 days” by the Israelites.

“Each day, each moment, the people of Israel miss him,” Yishai said of Yosef, adding that the rabbi had ascended to heaven “by a whirlwind,” like the prophet Elijah.

“I miss him on a personal level, every morning at prayer time, at consultation time,” Yishai admitted.

Yishai urged the ultra-Orthodox community to follow the great rabbi’s teachings.

“If we want to receive Yosef’s blessing… we ought to follow his path,” Yishai said, lamenting the void created by the loss of the rabbi’s leadership and guidance.

Over 800,000 people crowded Jerusalem’s streets and alleys outside the Sanhedria cemetery last month to pay their last respects to Yosef.

“We’ve been left orphans,” Aryeh Deri, the political leader of the Shas political party steered by Yosef, wailed at the funeral ceremony. “We have no father. We have no leader.”

Yosef died in a Jerusalem hospital last month, sparking outpourings of grief from across the rainbow of Israeli society, though his passing was most deeply felt in the large, and largely traditional, Sephardi community.

Yosef was remembered as a leader of the Shas party, a political kingmaker but also a genius of Torah who brought thousands closer to Jewish halacha through lenient rulings.

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