Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef endorsed his son Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, author of the Yalkut Yosef work on Jewish law, as the party’s candidate for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi on Friday.

In a statement to the media, the office of Shas chairman Arye Deri stated that the spiritual leader had called on the members of the chief rabbi electoral committee to vote for his son.

“Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef is an adjudicator of Jewish law whose rulings are accepted in Israel and abroad,” Deri’s office said in its announcement to the press.

Speaking on Friday morning, Ovadia Yosef announced his decision.

“We have decided that [Yitzhak Yosef] is the fitting candidate for chief rabbi... there is no doubt that his election would bring great honor to the institution of the rabbinate, the essence of which is adjudicating Jewish law.”

Yitzhak Yosef’s older brother, Rabbi Avraham Yosef – chief rabbi of Holon, had been expected to be endorsed by their father, but a police investigation into accusations of breach of trust and conflict of interest which has been re-opened against him in recent days seemingly ended his candidacy.

Yitzhak Yosef does not have a high public profile and has not held a position of public office, although he is a rabbinical judge and the dean of the Hazon Ovadia Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Ovadia Yosef also announced that Shas would be supporting Rabbi David Lau, chief rabbi of Modi’in, for the position of Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

On Friday, the haredi website Kikar Hashabbat reported that pressure is now growing on Rabbi Ya’akov Shapira, dean of the national-religious Merkaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem to withdraw his candidacy.

Shapira, from the conservative wing of the national religious movement, had hoped to gain the endorsement of the leading haredi rabbis for the position of Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

Should he insist on standing for election, he could possibly detract votes from Lau’s candidacy, thereby boosting the chances of Rabbi David Stav, who has been endorsed by Bayit Yehudi and all of the coalition parties apart from the Likud.

The other leading candidates for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi are Rabbi Tzion Boaron, a rabbinical judge on the Supreme Rabbinical Court, and Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.

Candidates must officially submit their candidacy no later than Wednesday at 5 p.m. The election will take place on July 24.

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