The Jewish Press joins Klal Yisrael in mourning the death this week of the towering Torah personality, Talmudic scholar and halachic decisor Rav Ovadia Yosef.

Acknowledged as the preeminent Sephardic halachic authority of his time, Rav Yosef served as Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi from 1973 to 1983 and formed the Shas Party in 1984 to address issues of concern to Israel’s large and growing Sephardic community.

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His knowledge and mastery of hundreds of years of halachic precedent, which he meticulously chronicled and analyzed, was unsurpassed and contributed much to our understanding of the Torah’s legal dynamic. A prolific writer, his commentaries were widely respected and earned him the Israel Prize in 1970.

The worldwide respect he commanded served to elevate the status of Sephardim in Israel, most of whom had immigrated to Israel from neighboring Arab countries and often confronted a political system dominated by entrenched Ashkenazim who were not always fully welcoming.

May his memory be a blessing.

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