A notable name in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox political party Shas, Rabbi Shalom Cohen, died in Jerusalem on Monday at the age of 91.
Known as the influential spiritual leader of the Shas political party, the Rabbi served as the head of the Council of Torah Sages for Shas, an ultra-Orthodox party that represents Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews. Cohen was also the head of Jerusalem’s Porat Yosef Yeshiva religious school.
He leaves behind five sons and three daughters.
Mourning the loss, Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri referred to the Rabbi as “our father, our teacher and our leader” and Deri likened Cohen’s death to “a ship losing its captain.”
Although the exact cause of the Rabbi’s death remains unknown, he was in and out of the hospital over the past year and had been hospitalized in recent weeks for a leg infection. His condition deteriorated in recent days.
Also mourning the loss of the influential Rabbi was Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who said, “In the name of the Israeli government and all Israel, I send condolences to [Cohen’s family], students, and all those who honor his memory. Our strength is in the unity of the nation of Israel.”
Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads a bloc of right-wing religious parties that Shas is part of, referred to Rabbi Cohen as “one of the Torah giants of our generation.” He said, “He (Cohen) had tremendous expertise in the world of Torah, alongside spiritual and social leadership that impacted masses of Jews and Israelis. The nation of Israel has lost an arbiter of halacha [Jewish religious law], a guide for many and a prayer leader of the first rank.”
The Rabbi’s funeral procession is scheduled to set out from Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood at 2 p.m. on Monday, and the police are preparing for a massive event with tens of thousands of participants.