Tens of thousands attend J'lem memorial for Rabbi Yosef

Marking end of late rabbi's shiva, Shas holds memorial service near J'lem cemetery, where he is buried; 58 injured by crowding, six taken to hospital

Shas held a memorial service on Sunday in honor of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, near the Sanhedria Cemetery in Jerusalem, where the rabbi is buried. Fifty-eight people were reported injured due to crowding. Six of the injured were taken to the hospital.


Sunday marked the end of Yosef's shiva. Tens of thousands  gathered near the cemetery entrance, which has been closed for several hours. According to estimates, some 200,000 people were expected to attend.


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Former chief rabbi Shlomo Amar attended the event, and the current Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri and other senior figures spoke. During the ceremony, Rabbi Shalom Cohen announced the addition of Rabbi David Yosef to the spiritual leadership council of the movement.


Deri declared that Shas' educational system is to be named after Rabbi Yosef. "After consultation with the Council of Torah Sages and the sons of Maran, we considered how to commemorate his memory, and came to the conclusion that the most important thing is education of the children of Israel – it was the life work of Rabbi Ovadia," Deri said. "That is why we decided to call the Torah education network 'Sons of Joseph.'"


Addressing Israel's racial divide, which was at the core of Rabbi Yosef's work and politics, Deri added that "When we studied, there were few Sephardic yeshivot. Those of us who studied at Ashkenazi yeshivot went at the sides of the road; we put our heads down, we were afraid to pray in our prayer style. But look at what happened in the last few years, to what heights he took us.” 


 (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)

Photo: Eli Mandelbaum


Photo: Eli Mandelbaum


 (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)

Photo: Eli Mandelbaum


 (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Photo: Gil Yohanan 


 (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Photo: Gil Yohanan


Rabbi David Lau, the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel also spoke, eulogizing the late rabbi, "He was a rare figure of a generation, a special man of Torah who belonged to all the people of Israel."


On stage at the memorial rally were rabbis and prominent religious leaders from all haredi streams, including the chief rabbis and IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz. Behind them a huge photo of Rabbi Yosef hung with the words, "We are orphans without a father.”


Rabbi David Yosef, son of the late Rabbi Yosef, referred to the haredi draft and said: "The recruitment edict will be cancelled.


"I encourage the public to unite under the leadership of the Council of Torah Sages," he added. "We will continue father's way of leadership." 


Rabbi Baruch Mordechai Azrachi, the head of Ateret Yisrael yeshiva and a member of the Council of the Ashkenazi Torah Sages, said in his speech: "They want to disconnect the haredim from their beliefs, that's what they want, they will not succeed, we will not budge from our positions. Another Torah, another meeting, to no end. It is his will! We will not disconnect! Why disconnect all Jews from haredi practice? They will not succeed in disconnecting us!”


'Father to all of us'

Shlomo Levy came to the rally from Ramat Gan. He left his home at 15:00, a lesson learned from the funeral last week, when heavy traffic prevented him from attending. "On the day of the funeral, I realized it was a lost cause from the start, so I decided to attend the rally. It's the least you can do for Rabbi Ovadia," he said. "This is a great loss to the people of Israel. We lost the man who carried the entire generation on his back... I think this is a cross-sector event.”


Aliza, who came from Rehovot, said she felt Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was her father in every way, "He was a father to all of us, so I felt the need to come. Now we feel orphaned…He was the Moses of our generation… there won’t be another like him."


Aliza’s friend, Margalit, added: "Through his sermons and books, Rabbi Ovadia taught me everything. How to be a mother and wife and observant. I can't fathom the loss."


In keeping with worshipers' belief system, the event was meant to be held under gender segregation, with a separate street designated for women, but there seemed to be no official separation on scene.


Police and Magen David Adom monitored the event.


Rabbi Yosef, Shas' spiritual leader, passed away on Monday at the age of 93.


Noam (Dabul) Dvir, Kobi Nachshoni and Raanan Ben-Zur contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 10.13.13, 17:57
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