Hundreds of thousands crowd Jerusalem for funeral of leading scholar Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Yosef had suffered from a variety of medical ailments for several years

Jerusalem

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a leading religious scholar known for landmark rulings in Jewish law and for playing a key role in the political empowerment of Sephardic Jews of Middle Eastern origins, died on Monday, aged 93.

An estimated 500,000 people thronged the streets of Jerusalem for his funeral procession, one of the largest ever held in Israel.

Yehuda Fisch, a religious seminary student among the mourners, said ‘’He advanced people from downtrodden places and lifted them up. He conveyed a lot of love.’’

Elhanan Pinhasi, 18, added: ‘’We owe him our lives. He went from family to family and brought people closer to religion.’’

But Mr Yosef was also controversial, known for his derogatory pronouncements about non-Jews, Arabs, gays and secular Jews. He even offended Holocaust survivors, saying those who perished were the reincarnated souls of sinners being punished.

Iraqi-born Mr Yosef, founder and spiritual leader of the Shas political party, a kingmaker in several Israeli coalition governments, was pronounced dead by doctors at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital. Mr Yosef had suffered a variety of maladies over the last few years and was hospitalised late last month in critical condition after kidney failure and problems with other bodily functions. It was 30 years ago that Mr Yosef formed the Shas political party which became a formidable force in part by stoking resentment of Sephardic Jews at discrimination they faced from Israel’s European Jewish elite.

Police in Jerusalem had to stop mourners reaching the vehicle bearing the body of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who died aged 93 Police in Jerusalem had to stop mourners reaching the vehicle bearing the body of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (EPA)
During the early 1990s Mr Yosef maintained an alliance with Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin as he pursued peace with the PLO, ruling that saving Jewish lives through peace was more important than retaining all of the West Bank. But after the second intifada in 2000, Mr Yosef stopped espousing such compromise.

Other key religious rulings by the rabbi included determining, against the opinion of other leading rabbis, that Ethiopian Jews are fully-fledged members of the Jewish faith.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman, Peter Capaldi and Nick Frost star in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, Last Christmas
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran