Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel dies

By Jennifer Lipman, June 7, 2010
Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu

The former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel has died in Jerusalem at the age of 81.

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who spent a decade at the helm of Israel’s Sephardic community, had been in intensive care for more than eight months.

Born to a religious family in Jerusalem in 1929, Rabbi Eliyahu went on to become Israel’s youngest dayan (religious court judge) and the Chief Rabbi of Beersheva.

He served as Sephardi Chief Rabbi from 1983 to 1993 and remained vocal on issues to do with religious Zionism for years after. In 2006 he came under fire for linking the Holocaust to the growth of Reform Judaism.

He was highly critical of Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2004, leading prayers at a demonstration against the plan.

In 2003 Rabbi Eliyahu composed a special prayer for Jonathan Pollard, the American spy imprisoned for passing military secrets on to Israel.

He is survived by his wife and four children.

Last updated: 3:39pm, June 7 2010