Rabbi Eliyahu laid to rest

Former Chief Sephardi Rabbi passes away at 81.

June 8, 2010 02:15
3 minute read.
Former chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu.

rabbi eliyahu 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Former chief Sephardi Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu passed away on Monday afternoon at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center after a prolonged hospitalization. He was 81 years old.

Eliyahu was born and raised in Jerusalem, and served as chief rabbi between 1983 and 1993. He was one of the spiritual leaders of religious Zionism, and remained an influential voice among the national religious community after stepping down.

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Last Pessah, Eliyahu underwent bypass surgery, following which he suffered a stroke. In August he was admitted to Shaare Zedek again, and remained hospitalized from then on.

His funeral took place on Monday night in the capital.

Eliyahu was laid to rest at the Har Menuhot cemetery.

Thousands of predominantly Orthodox Jews from all over the country packed Rehov Reines and the surrounding streets of Kiryat Moshe to hear the eulogies and pay their last respects to Eliyahu.

Netanyahu grieves Rabbi Eliyahu's loss

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed deep grief over Eliyahu’s passing.

“Rabbi Eliyahu was the paramount spiritual leader of religious Zionism,” he said.

“[Rabbi Eliyahu] was a pious man loyal to our people, who always combined words of Torah, sharp observations and wise advice.”

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger delivered a tearful speech in which he described Eliyahu’s many virtues.

“This is a huge loss to the Torah world and the rabbinate,” Metzger told The Jerusalem Post shortly before the funeral.

“Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was a pillar of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. He started off as the country’s youngest rabbinical judge, and worked his way up to the High Rabbinical Court through his greatness in Torah, from where he was appointed chief Sephardi rabbi,” Metzger continued.

“I owe him a personal debt; I received so much from him,” Metzger added. “He was unrivaled as far as his human relations, loved by all, and Jews of all types – hassidim, Lithuanians, settlers, Ashkenazim and Sephardim – would convene in his house to hear Torah from him.

“This is a difficult day for all of Israel, and so many rabbis who were privy to his advice and wisdom,” he said. “May his memory be blessed.” A Shas spokesman said that “Shas’s Council of Torah Sages, the Shas movement, its rabbis and public from all over the country mourn and feel pain over the death of the great genius... who taught so many and promoted Torah.

Settlement movement mourns

Eliyahu’s death will be wept over by every household, and may God console us.” The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip also lamented the death of Eliyahu, “who led the world of Torah, religious Zionism and the settlement movement in Judea and Samaria,” its announcement read.

“His guidance, courage and love for the people of Israel and the Land of Israel led generations in their struggle over establishing and fortifying the settlements,” it continued. “We’ve lost our guide, who unified the camp and led us in the face of the challenges of the times.”

The Binyamin Citizens Committee called Eliyahu “the pillar of fire leading the settlers of Judea and Samaria, encouraging them in their difficult times and acting to their benefit.”

The Jewish Community of Hebron released a statement mourning the loss of “a true leader of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and a staunch friend of Hebron’s Jewish community.

“The rabbi was always available to help and show support in every way possible. His death is a tremendous loss to the Jewish people and will be especially felt by Hebron’s Jewish residents over the decades,” the community’s statement said.

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