thousands of haredim at yosef memorial 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Several thousand people turned out in Jerusalem for a memorial service marking
the end of the 30-day period of mourning for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who acted as
the spiritual leader and ultimate authority of the Shas movement.
memorial rally was an opportunity for Shas chairman Arye Deri to continue to
mend bridges and soothe bruised egos within the party by granting political
rival Eli Yishai an opportunity to eulogize Yosef publicly.
At a memorial
service marking the end of the seven-day shiva period, Yishai, the former party
chairman elbowed aside by Deri earlier this year, had been conspicuously omitted
from the list of people who spoke.
On Tuesday night Yishai made full use
of his platform and delivered a passionate but dignified tribute to Yosef, with
whom he was close, speaking articulately and with eloquence.
to the podium, he was treated to appreciative applause from the
“Every moment we miss the rabbi, every day we miss him. The Jewish
people misses him,” he said. “The void he has left is huge, the fracture [in our
lives] is terrible.”
The Shas MK said he felt the rabbi’s passing and
absence on a personal level as well, and missed praying with and taking advice
“There are no words to describe the rabbi’s absence; there are
no words to describe the lack of understanding and the lack of leadership for
the path [ahead],” Yishai declared.
Speaking at the end of the memorial
was Yosef’s son, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. He spoke of his father’s
dedication to Torah study and how at every opportunity, even during his final
weeks in the hospital, he would open a book of Jewish law to
Yitzhak Yosef also used the occasion to declare that the Knesset
was being disrespectful to the Chief Rabbinate by passing laws without consulting it.
He mentioned legislation on marriage and
conversion that had been passed or was shortly to be brought before lawmakers.
He also appealed to the assembled crowd to honor his father’s legacy by
dedicating more time to Torah study and specifically to learn from the works
written by the Shas mentor.
“Eat quickly on Friday night, sing just a few
songs and then go and study,” Yosef said.
Among the other speakers were
Rabbi Baruch Abuhatzeira, son of the famed Kabbalist, Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira,
who was popularly known as the Baba Sali; Rabbi Yitzhak David Grossman, founder
and dean of the Migdal Ohr educational institutions; and Rabbi Yehuda Deri,
chief municipal rabbi of Beersheba and brother of Arye Deri.
the Shas chairman and Yishai held a faceto- face meeting to ease tensions that
had been building since Yosef’s death last month. A public attack on Yishai in a
TV interview two weeks ago led to unprecedented public criticism of the party
chairman by Shas MKs Nissim Ze’ev and Ya’acov Margi, which prompted Deri to
patch things up with Yishai in an attempt to preserve party unity.
addition, two weeks ago Deri met with Rabbi Tzion Boaron, a rabbinical judge on
the Supreme Rabbinical Court who ran for Sephardi chief rabbi against Yitzhak
Yosef. Boaron had the strong backing of former chief rabbi Shlomo Amar, who was
furious with Deri for undermining his efforts to be reelected chief
Deri in recent weeks also sought to repair his and the Yosef
family’s relationship with Amar in order to bring some form of reconciliation
and unity to the Shas movement as a whole.