elyashiv - Emil Salman - June 20 2011
A prayer session for Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv at the Western Wall Sunday night. Photo by Emil Salman
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Olivier Fitoussi
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

Mass prayers were being conducted last night by ultra-Orthodox in Israel and overseas as Lithuanian-Orthodox leader, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, 101 years old, entered an operating room in Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

The venerated rabbi was to undergo a catheterization procedure in a major artery, carried out by an American specialist who was flown in specially: Dr. Daniel Clair, from the Cleveland Clinic. Vascular surgeon Clair carried out a catheterization on the rabbi a few years ago.

Rabbi Elyashiv is the grandson of a renowned kabbalist. He immigrated to Mandatory Palestine with his family in 1922, at the age of 12.

The medical procedure Rabbi Elyashiv was to undergo is not considered to be particularly complicated; it was expected to be done with local anesthesia. Nonetheless, medical experts and thousands of ultra-Orthodox have been closely monitoring the rabbi's health, owing to his highly respected status and age. Despite his 101 years, Rabbi Elyashiv has continued to hold daily lessons, and has attended prayers in a synagogue in Mea She'arim.

When Clair arrived late at night, MK Moshe Gafni awaited him, and told the surgeon that "all of the people of Israel are relying on you."