Jerusalem – The spiritual leader of an Israeli ultra-Orthodox political party was hospitalized after a suspected minor stroke in Jerusalem on Saturday, a development that could shake his party’s fortunes and mute one of Israel’s most influential voices.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, 92, is conscious and in a stable condition, Hadassah hospital spokeswoman Etti Dvir said, adding that doctors had requested he remain in the facility for several days for observation and further checks. She did not provide further details on his ailment.
Israeli media reported he was rushed to Hadassah hospital after collapsing during morning prayers in a synagogue on Saturday morning.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef suffered a mild stroke on Saturday during the Sabbath-morning prayer service. He was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Karem hospital for treatment and observation and remained in hospital overnight, although he retained full consciousness throughout the event.
According to a statement made by Hadassah Medical Director Dr. Yuval Weiss, “Extensive tests revealed that Rabbi Yosef experienced a very light stroke. It was decided to keep in him in hospital for a number of other tests and for rest,” Weiss said. “Throughout the entire time, the rabbi has remained fully conscious and [has been] communicating fully with those around.
He added that he hoped the rabbi would be released from hospital in the coming days.
A Shas party spokesman said that Yosef, 92, was having trouble operating his left hand while praying in the synagogue at his residence in the capital’s Har Nof neighborhood on Saturday morning.
After a doctor assessed the rabbi at the residence, it was discerned that he had suffered a mild stroke and was taken to hospital.
Speaking on Channel 2 news, joint Shas leader Arye Deri said that he had talked with Yosef in the afternoon, and that the rabbi “spoke fluently, and was clear, concentrated and focused.”
“Still, a stroke is a stroke and he will remain in hospital for observation and further tests,” Deri said.
Deri and joint Shas leader and Interior Minister Eli Yishai walked to the hospital in the early afternoon to visit the rabbi.
Yishai said that Yosef was in good spirits and gave a Torah lesson on the plagues in Egypt during the Third Meal of the Sabbath.
A communal prayer service was scheduled for Saturday night for Yosef’s recovery at his residence in Har Nof.
While speaking on Channel 2, Deri called directly on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to speak with him about entering into a coalition with Shas.
Speaking to the camera Deri told Netanyahu: “Call me, I’m ready to come to your home and complete negotiations in order to enter the government,” the Shas leader said in response to accusations that he himself had been in negotiations with Labor and the parties of the center left.
Instead, Deri accused Netanyahu of preferring to form a coalition with the center left instead of “his natural partners.”
“For two or three months now, I have been shouting from every platform that whoever votes Shas will get us, as well as Netanyahu as prime minister,” Deri added.
“But, I estimate that the day after the elections he’ll look right and left and he’ll find his natural partners,” he said nevertheless.
The Shas leader also said that he “would not apologize for the controversial campaign ad Shas broadcast last week, in which an obviously Russian woman received a conversion to Judaism by fax while standing under a wedding canopy besides her husband-to-be.
“We were targeting Yisrael Beytenu who have a clear agenda to advance civil unions, they are granting conversions via fax, is that what we want here,” he said in reference to the state conversion system.
Critics of the ad accused Shas of broadcasting racist messages and negatively stereotyping the Russian community. Religious-rights groups also attacked the notion that the conversion process is insubstantial, and pointed out that Rabbi Yosef himself has approved the system and the conversions carried out through its offices.
Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post