Thousands of Israelis attended the funeral of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen, one of Israel’s leading Sephardi rabbis, who died on Monday morning at the age of 91.
Cohen was buried next to his late wife in Jerusalem’s Sanhedria Cemetery. Roads across Jerusalem were closed by the Israel Police due to the funeral procession that attracted thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews from across the country, causing heavy traffic in and around Israel’s capital.
“I mourn the passing of the head of the great yeshiva and sage Shalom Cohen of blessed memory,” President Isaac Herzog said in a statement on Monday morning. “In addition to his greatness in Torah, he was a spiritual leader who modestly and humbly led a large and important community in Israel and the Jewish world. We met many times, and I’m sorry that this year we won’t be able to keep the tradition and visit him in his sukkah.”
Prime Minister Yair Lapid offered his condolences, saying, “In the name of the Israeli government and all of the people of Israel, I send my condolences to his family, to his students and to all that keep his memory. Our strength is in the unity of the people of Israel.”
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides tweeted, “Such a loss to the community! I am saddened to hear of the passing of one of Israel’s great spiritual leaders, Rabbi Shalom Cohen.”
Such a loss to the community! I am saddened to hear of the passing of one of Israel’s great spiritual leaders, Rabbi Shalom Cohen. My heart goes out to his family. May his memory be a blessing. יהי זכרו ברוך— Ambassador Tom Nides (@USAmbIsrael) August 22, 2022
Cohen was the spiritual leader of the Shas political party. He at times struck an antagonistic and inflammatory position toward Israeli Jews who were not haredi (ultra-Orthodox).
He replaced Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in the party’s leadership role after Yosef died in 2014. Before that, Cohen was the leader of the Porat Yosef religious seminary.
Cohen was hospitalized a few days ago at Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem for treatment of an infection in his leg. However, his condition worsened over the weekend, according to Walla.