One day following the largest funeral in Israel’s history, thousands of mourners
continued to visit the Jerusalem grave of Shas spiritual leader, and former
chief rabbi, Ovadia Yosef Tuesday to pray, express their respect, gratitude and
a sense of loss befitting a beloved father.
Indeed, David Avraham, of
Jerusalem, who could not attend Yosef’s funeral Monday evening due to the
numerous road closures and traffic that clogged the city, said he felt like an
“A very great man in Torah has left us like orphans,” said
Avraham, as his wife, Aliza, nodded her head in agreement while they stood a few
meters from Yosef’s grave.
“We were very attached to him.”
added, “All students of Jewish theology around the world feel like they have
Yosef’s burial plot, located in the Sanhedria Cemetery in
the heart of western Jerusalem, was continually surrounded by hundreds of men
who placed dozens of candles by his grave as they prayed in silence throughout
Several meters away, hundreds of women prayed and served sliced
apples, grapes and cookies for the seemingly endless procession of
“It feels like a great father has passed away,” said Aliza, who
noted Yosef’s uncommon compassion.
“He used to think about all the poor
people – he would always ask about them,” she added. “Poor people used to come
to him for help and he would cry like a child because it pained
David said that apart from Yosef’s unrivalled knowledge of Torah,
it was his core humanity that made him such a transcendental figure.
did not care if you were rich or poor, educated or ignorant,” he said. “He loved
all people equally. You can see, now is only the second day, and not only are
the Orthodox coming, but even secular Jews.”
To be sure, although the
majority of Tuesday’s mourners were ultra-Orthodox, there was a sizable
representation of secular Jews visiting his grave, as well.
woman, who requested her name not be published, said she felt profound sadness
following Yosef’s death.
“This is very sad for everyone because we all
lost a great man,” she said. “I am not religious, but I know that someone like
him only comes along once in a generation.”
Moshe, a haredi man living in
the capital who asked that his last name not be published, described Yosef’s
death as “the greatest loss of all of Israel.”
“I’m not Sephardi, but the
Sephardim say he was like a father to them and that he loved them like a father
loves his son,” he said. “I felt the same way. He’s in the best place now – in
Perhaps the most common observation made about Yosef by mourners
was his ability to relate to people from all walks of life.
“If he spoke
to children, he would talk to them in their language, and he would do the same
with world leaders,” said Aliza. “He never talked down to anyone.”
a secular Jew who requested his last name not be published, said it was Yosef’s
“good heart” that propelled him to greatness among a vast spectrum of Jews and
“He would talk to anyone who wanted a blessing and answer any
question, no matter who you were,” he said.
“This is how he became a
A middle-aged security guard stationed at the cemetery, who
requested anonymity, said the outpouring for Yosef is unprecedented.
have never seen anything like this,” he said. “It’s very special. It was the
biggest funeral ever in Israel, and he deserved it.