Amidst the War, Israelis Mark Ten Years Since the Passing of Former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Ovadia Yosef with Learning and Prayers
Yesterday (October 18, 2023/3rd of Cheshvan on the Jewish calendar) throughout Israel, Sephardic synagogues marked the 10th anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former Chief Sephardic Rabbi. Over half of Israel have roots as “Sephardic Jews; i.e., Jews of middle eastern or Persian origin. In his merit there were special prayers said in synagogues and at his grave site, especially for the protection of the Israeli armed forces. In some synagogues dinners were held and even circling the bimah with the Torah as in the holiday of Simchat Torah.
His funeral was the largest in Israel’s history with an estimated 800,000 attending and an additional 200,000 who were not able to enter the city of Jerusalem. Rav Ovadia had been an outspoken opponent of the government’s policy of removing the Jewish communities and Jewish presence from Gaza. He was a former Chief Rabbi of Egypt and well respected in different communities. In the book entitled, “Maran,” author Yehuda Azoulay describes a scene where Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called the Rabbi and asked him for a blessing and asked him to place his hands directly on his head while giving the blessing.
Rav Ovadia’s son, current Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and the head of the Kisei Rahamim Yeshiva, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, called upon the public to ascend Rabbi Yosef’s grave and pray for the safety of the soldiers. “Such a unique man, for many years we have had no leader like him,” said Rabbi Mazuz, “and this week is the date of his passing, so it deems worthy to go beg by his grave, that he pray to God to have mercy on this nation..” (as reported in Arutz Sheva)