What does it say about a person if 750,000 people attend his funeral? That’s how many people attended to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s funeral procession this past Tuesday in Jerusalem. And on just a few hours’ notice! That’s the equivalent of the whole City of Denver (technically even more) crowding the narrow streets of Israel’s capital. Can you imagine? It boggles the mind.
Rabbi Yosef was the undisputed leader of Sephardic Jewry. And though his views weren’t always liberal or progressive (although at times they were exactly that, specifically on agunot, conversion and land for peace), essentially, his entire constituency believed in him. How many leaders can say the same?
He was also one of the last links to the rich, Sephardic religious culture of the Arab World, being born in Baghdad and having led the community of Cairo for a time.
Abe Foxman: His lasting legacy will be Sephardic activism in politics and leadership throughout Israeli society.
The outpouring of grief has been humbling. To witness – even just through the Internet – the intense emotional reaction of Jews worldwide is awe-inspiring.
Shimon Peres: His contribution was his love for Israel and he solved problems no one else could solve using his wisdom and spirituality.
A scene from the funeral procession. The raw emotion of the mourners comes through the video clip:
- Mattis Goldberg, reporting from Jerusalem: Remembering Rabbi Yosef
- Rabbi Hillel Goldberg recounting My encounters with Rabbi Yosef
- When 800,000 people come to a funeral on four hours notice (IJN Editorial
- Live blog from the funeral procession, including qutoes from major world and Jewish leaders (Times of Israel)
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