After His Death, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Still Starring in Shas' Campaign

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Even after his death, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is still starring in Shas’ local election campaigns, with full support from party chairman Aryeh Deri.

“I should be ashamed of the fact that we’re exalting the memory of Maran and using his name?” Deri demanded in an interview with the ultra-Orthodox Kol Barama radio station on Tuesday, using the title (literally, “our master”) by which Yosef was often known. “What is this? Shas is Maran. Without Maran, there is no Shas.”

Shas campaign posters pasted up throughout the country all feature pictures of Yosef, the party’s founder and spiritual leader, and the message that it was his final wish that his followers vote Shas. The posters are particularly prominent in Jerusalem and Elad, two cities where Shas is running mayoral candidates – Moshe Leon and Tzuriel Krispel, respectively – against strong opponents.

In Elad, the entire wall of one building is covered with a giant billboard with Yosef’s image that says, “We are executing your will. We are voting for Krispel.” In Jerusalem, the slogan is “We love you, Maran,” accompanied by images of ballots for Shas and Leon.

In the radio interview, Deri fielded questions about the “political odor” emanating from the memorial ceremony Shas held for Yosef in Jerusalem on Sunday, at the end of the seven-day Jewish mourning period, the shivah.

“I’ll tell you of another criticism I received, which wasn’t published: criticism from great Torah scholars, and even from a member of the Council of Torah Sages,” Deri responded, referring to Shas’ governing body. “He said, ‘Why didn’t you speak openly about how everyone is obligated to go and vote? Why didn’t you put Shas signs on the dais? That’s truly remembering Maran; that’s what Maran would have wanted.’ I have no doubt that if Maran had been at that huge gathering Sunday night, that’s what he would have spoken about for his entire speech. After all, what’s a memorial ceremony? It’s to exalt the memory of the deceased and his works. And this was Maran’s greatest work. Why should we be embarrassed?”

Yosef devoted time to Shas even at the expense of Torah study, Deri continued, “and traveled to every city in Israel on behalf of this sacred movement. So I should be ashamed of the fact that we’re exalting the memory of Maran and using his name? What’s that about? Shas is Maran. Without Maran, there is no Shas.”

Shas campaign posters for the October 22, 2013 local elections invoking the wishes of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

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