Does Israel Have A Culture Of Corruption?

Israel is beginning to look like old time Chicago politics.  The previous governor of Illinois, a former Chicago congressman, is in jail, home to four of the last seven governors of Illinois, and another popular former Chicago congressman is in jail now, with his wife, a former city alderman, going in when he gets out.  They’re only the latest in a long list of former Chicago area politicians to go to prison for corruption.

Hardline Rabbi Named Shas Spiritual Leader

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Shalom Cohen, a hardline rabbi known for his overt hostility toward modern Orthodox and secular Israeli Jews, was appointed spiritual leader of the Orthodox, Sephardi Shas Party.

Cohen, leader of the Porat Yosef religious seminary, was named president of the Shas Council of Torah Sages on Thursday at a ceremony in Bnei Brak neat Tel Aviv, Army Radio reported. He replaced Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who died last year.

Netanyahu Praises Rabbi Yosef As 'Giant In Torah' As More Than 800,000 Mourn

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Hundreds of thousands of people took to Jerusalem streets to mourn the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Monday evening, with crowd estimates as high as 800,000 and possibly close to 1 million.

President Shimon Peres called him “a great man with an unbelievable memory and the wisdom to share his knowledge with others.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said  the former Sephardic chief rabbi was “a giant in Torah and Jewish law and a teacher for tens of thousands.

“”He worked greatly to enhance Jewish heritage and at the same time, his rulings took into consideration the times and the realities of renewed life in the State of Israel. He was imbued with love of the Torah and the people.”

Many of the main streets in Jerusalem were closed for the service, which local media called the largest in Israeli history.

The mourners — equal to about 10 percent of the country’s population — crowded a portion of the city’s northern district as loudspeakers broadcast the proceedings to others far from the ceremony.

The funeral for Yosef, the 93-year-old former chief Sephardic rabbi of Israel, began several hours after his death at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital after a long illness.

A van carrying his body could barely inch forward due to the swarms of mourners while bringing him to the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in the Geula neighborhood and then to the Sanhedria cemetery, where he was buried next to his wife, who died two decades ago.

Some 300 people required medical attention during the funeral and procession, which lasted several hours.

After a series of penitential prayers, Rabbi Yosef was eulogized by a string of leading haredi Orthodox rabbis, including his son, the current Sephardi chief rabbi, Yitzchak Yosef, as well as former Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau.

Aryeh Deri, head of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party founded by Yosef in 1984, also delivered a eulogy.

“Who will unite us all?” Deri said, crying. “Who will lead us, rabbi? You left us in our hardest hour.”

Yosef, a native of Baghdad, Iraq, served as Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi from 1973 to 1983, subsequently founding Shas and serving as its spiritual leader. He was revered among Sephardi and haredi Orthodox Israelis as a sage of Jewish law, and was known more broadly for his sometimes controversial political stances.

On Tuesday morning, hundreds of people visited an open mourning tent erected outside Yosef’s home in the Har Nof neighbordood of Jerusalem. Thousands are expected to visit each day throughout the seven-day shiva period.

Some 200 people were treated by Magen David Adom, Israel's emergency medical service, as the procession wound through the streets from Yeshiva Porat Yosef in the Geula section, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Rabbi Yosef founded the Sephardi Orthodox Shas political party and exercised major influence on Jewish law but was also prone to making inflammatory statements about non-Jews, gays and victims of tragedies.

Hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Israelis crowded Jerusalem streets for the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Getty Images

Shas Spiritual Leader On Respirator After Operation

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Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the 93-year-old spiritual leader of Israel’s Shas party, is sedated and attached to a respirator, according to the Times of Israel.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the Shas party's spiritual leader, is on life support. Getty Images

Republicans And Democrats, Israeli Style


When Bill Clinton was President of the United States, many in Israel thought he would most fit to be their Prime Minister. In 2012 we watched the high involvement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Republican presidential campaign, and for a moment it looked like he would be a more suitable candidate than Mitt Romney.

Expelled From Shas, And Preaching Tolerance

Fervently Orthodox Israeli rabbi new darling of Jewish establishment here.

Editor And Publisher

Rabbi Chaim Amsellem has become an unlikely hero to many in the American Jewish establishment who closely follow Israeli life, including a new worldwide group being formed to support his positions.

A Sephardic scholar of Talmud with a thick gray beard and black hat, the rabbi, 51, is a Knesset member from the fervently Orthodox Shas party, known for its socially conservative agenda and interest in obtaining government funds to support a network of yeshivas.

Gary Rosenblatt

Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Rabbi New Darling Of U.S. Jewish Establishment

Chaim Amsellem has become an unlikely hero to many in the American Jewish establishment who closely follow Israeli life, including a new worldwide group being formed to support his positions.

A Sephardic scholar of Talmud with a thick grey beard and black hat, the rabbi, 51, is a member of Knesset from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, known for its socially conservative agenda and primary interest in obtaining government funds to support a network of yeshivas.

Seven Who Made A Difference In 2010

For better or worse, the newsmakers of the year.

Editor and Publisher

Delegitimization. Flotilla.  Park51. Settlement freeze. Loyalty oath. The BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement.

These words and phrases recall some of the challenges and controversies that cropped up for Israel and the Jewish community in 2010, a year of increasing assaults on Jerusalem’s legitimacy on an international scale, and blame from Washington for the lack of progress in Mideast peace efforts.

Gary Rosenblatt

After the Fires: When Blame is Not a Game

Special to the Jewish Week

Now that the horrific fire in Israel’s Carmel forest has been extinguished and Israel has buried its dead, Israeli politicians and pundits have begun the inevitable process of assessing blame for this unprecedented tragedy. I have heard many referring to it as the “blame game,” as if this can be treated like just another episode in which an oversight or omission on the part of some careless government functionary caused a blackout, or a monumental traffic jam. Find the most likely suspect, the reasoning goes, hang him/her out to dry, and go on with your lives.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

The Fires This Time


While the now-extinguished fires in northern Israel were an unimaginable catastrophe for the tiny nation — which, more than almost any other, cherishes its trees — there were heartening aspects of the fatal disaster.

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