Shas squabbles over successor to Ovadia Yosef

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 1, 2013
Rabbi Yosef remains in critical condition in hospital (Photo: Talsardar)

Rabbi Yosef remains in critical condition in hospital (Photo: Talsardar)

The deterioration in the health of 93-year-old Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has thrown his party, Shas, into a battle over who will succeed the spiritual leader.

Hospitalised at Hadasa Medical Centre for over two weeks now due to a blood pressure problem, doctors had to put the rabbi into a coma after his kidney and heart showed signs of failing.

Over the last weekend there was some improvement and he showed signs of regaining consciousness but his situation remains critical.

For the past three decades, Rabbi Yosef has led Shas with an iron hand, controlling its parliamentary list and ordering MKs on how to vote on crucial issues.

Four rabbis are being mentioned as possible successors. Shalom Cohen is the most senior member of the Council of Torah Sages which nominally controls the party, but he is 82 and is seen as lacking in political sophistication.

Rabbi Ovadia’s son, Yitzhak, is seen as a successor but his recent election as the new chief rabbi means he cannot be overtly involved in politics.

Former Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar was once seen as the anointed successor but he has become estranged from the Yosef family in recent months.

Popular orator Rabbi Reuven Elbaz has a supporter base but was involved in corruption allegations.

Last updated: 5:57pm, October 1 2013