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 the years 1983-1993. He was considered one of the spiritual leaders of religious Zionism, and remained an influential voice among the national religious after stepping down.Last Passover, Eliyahu underwent bypass surgery, following which he suffered a stroke. In August he was admitted to Shaarei Zedek again, and remained hospitalized since.Police expect tens of thousands to attend his funeral, which will begin 10 p.m. Monday night in the capital. Eliyahu will be laid to rest at the Har Menuchot cemetery.The Binyamin Citizens Committee expressed their bitter grief over the death of Eliyahu. "The rabbi was 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 Eliyahu, who was "a true leader of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael and a staunch friend of Hebron's Jewish community.""The rabbi was always available to help and show support in every way possible," the statement continued. "His death is a tremendous loss to the Jewish people and will be especially felt by Hebron's Jewish residents, over the decades."