Last updated: 18 July, 2012

Spiritual father of ultra-Orthodox Jewry dead at 102

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, one of the most important spiritual leaders of Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox judaism, died on Wednesday, Jerusalem’s Shaarei Tsedek hospital said. He was 102.

Born in 1910 in Lithuania, Elyashiv emigrated with his parents to British Mandate Palestine in 1924 and settled in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighbourhood. Four years later, he was ordained as a rabbi.

A judge in Israel’s Chief Rabbinate between 1950 and 1974, he shot to prominence in 2001 when he succeeded Rabbi Elazar Menahem Shach as the head of the Council of Torah Sages, the highest policy-making body for ultra-Orthodox Askhenazi Jews.

Respected for his knowledge of religious opinions and the author of around 10 books, Elyashiv was considered to be “Posek HaDor,” or the leading religious authority on Jewish law within ultra-Orthodox judaism.

On the political front, he inspired the ultra-Orthodox Degel HaTorah party, which along with the Agudat Yisrael faction, makes up the United Torah Judaism alliance, which holds five seat in the right-wing coalition of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In February, the elderly rabbi had been hospitalised in Shaarei Tsedek hospital with breathing difficulties.

His funeral will take place at Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul cemetery at 10:00 pm (1900 GMT) on Wednesday, with tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox expected to attend.