Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Shas movement, suffered a mild
stroke on Saturday during the morning prayer service.
He was taken to
Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem for treatment and
observation, and remained in the hospital overnight. He retained full
consciousness throughout the event.
“Extensive tests revealed that Rabbi
Yosef experienced a very light stroke. It was decided to keep in him in the
hospital for a number of other tests and for rest,” Hadassah medical director
Dr. Yuval Weiss said.
“Throughout the entire time, the rabbi has remained
fully conscious and [has been] communicating fully with those around
He added that he hoped the rabbi would be released from hospital in
the coming days.
A Shas party spokesman said that Yosef, 92, was having
trouble operating his left hand while praying in the synagogue at his home in
the capital’s Har Nof neighborhood on Saturday morning. A doctor assessed the rabbi’s condition at his home,
and found he had suffered a mild stroke. He was then taken to the
Speaking on Channel 2 news, Shas co-chairman Arye Deri said
that he had talked with Yosef in the afternoon, and that the rabbi “spoke
fluently, and was clear, concentrated and focused.”
“Still, a stroke is a
stroke and he will remain in hospital for observation and further tests,” Deri
Deri and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, one of the party’s other
co-chairmen, walked to the hospital in the early afternoon to visit the rabbi.
Yishai said that Yosef was in good spirits and gave a Torah lesson on the
plagues in Egypt during seudah shlishit, the “third meal” customarily eaten on
A communal prayer service was scheduled for Saturday
night for Yosef’s recovery at his residence in Har Nof.
Channel 2, Deri also said that he “would not apologize” for the controversial
campaign ad Shas broadcast last week, in which an obviously Russian woman
received a conversion to Judaism by fax while standing under a wedding canopy
besides her husband-tobe.
“We were targeting Yisrael Beytenu that has a
clear agenda to advance civil unions; they are granting conversions via fax, is
that what we want here?” he said in reference to the state conversion
Critics of the ad accused Shas of broadcasting racist messages
and negatively stereotyping the Russian community. Religious rights groups also
attacked the notion that the conversion process is insubstantial, and pointed
out that Yosef himself has approved the system and the conversions carried out
through its offices. •