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Our Blindspot for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

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As we mark the 3rd of Cheshvan, the day Rabbi Ovadia Yosef passed away, Jews worldwide will be remembering his outstanding scholarship, leadership, compassion, and knowledge. Yet from a general Jewish perspective, the Jewish community as a whole is blind to Chacham Ovadia’s most important role he must be acknowledged for. Even the most secular Ashkenazi Jews have great respect for Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum of Satmar, Rabbi Isaiah Karelitz— the Chozaon Ish, and others for their historic role in re-igniting the flame of faith, scholarship, and community which almost went extinct during the Holocaust. To many Mizrachi Jews displaced from their homes and communities from Yemen to Morocco, from Afghanistan and Persia to Ethiopia, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was the only one they saw rebuilding the homes they had lost.

In the past few years, we have seen an increased awareness of Iraq’s Farhud—violent pogroms—which led to the displacement of many thousands of Jews. We have seen an increased awareness of the forced expulsion and fleeing of almost one million Mizrachi and Sephardic Jews during the ’40s and ’50s. And yet, somehow, while many Ashkenazi Jews, and even general culture, have the ability to appreciate also the religious and cultural longing to the Shtetel,........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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