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Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: 1920- 2013
In Memory

ovadia yosef

“If I was brought into this world only to help the Ethiopians that is enough for me.”

The Israelite Board of  Rabbis joins with much of the world in mourning the death of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. His brilliance as a Torah sage is well known and his accomplishments are legendary. Most obituaries have focused on his role as a founder and leader of the Shas political party which was created to protect the interest of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews who were not being adequately represented by the Ashkenazi ruling elite in Israel. Through their yeshevot they fought to preserve Sephardi culture, traditions, and above all an ancient tradition of Torah learning and independent Bet Din (rabbinic court).

We pay special tribute to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef for the wisdom and courage he displayed in 1973. Though he was only in his first year as the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, he took the bold step of recognizing the Jewishness of Beta Israel (the black Jews of  Ethiopia). The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Goren, initially rejected this decision and the Chief Rabbinet of Israel, which was under Goren’s control, required that “pro forma” conversions be done. Rabbi Yosef opposed this position. He subsequently became an ardent defender of the Beta Israel; he spoke out against discrimination and segregation in Israeli religious schools.  He even threatened to “fire any principal” and withhold funding from any Shas school that refused to admit Ethiopian children on an equal basis. Having been born in Baghdad and having lived for a time in Egypt, he had a profound understanding of the challenges that Jews from the Mediterranean and Africa face in the larger Jewish world.

“May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life”.



Passover 2014 Edition

Special Passover Edition

Israelites in Egypt
And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with. rigor:
And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in
brick, and in all manner of service in the fields/”
Exodus 1:13-14.

Dr. Beno Rothenberg, director of the Institute of
Archaeo-Metallurgy, University College London, has written books
including An Archeaological PassoverHaggadah.
In an attempt to prove that the Hebrews were enslaved and traveled to
Israel as the Bible says, Dr. Rothenberg offers numerous pieces of
evidence, such as this wall painting from the tomb of Rekmire 15th
Century B.C.E. that purports to show Semitic people at work. Though it
was not his intention, the evidence that he and other scholars present
make a compelling case for the existence of a Hebrew presence in Egypt,
it also makes a strong prima facie case in favor of the proposition that
these Israelites in Africa were also black people.


three  faces of moses yiskak yehudah 1969
“Three Faces of Moses” by Yiskak Ben Yehudah, 1969

Biblical Man Meets Modern Man: A Story
Rabbi Sholomo Ben Levy

Passover Information

What does the Torah say?
The Laws of Passover

Passover 2005 BE  Table

Passover Sermon: “Hardening the Hart”
Rabbi Sholomo B. Levy

“Meaning of the Ten Plagues”
Rabbi Malchah Netanyahu

What is “Kosher” for Passover”?
(some standard definitions)

Counting the Omer
(Calendar of the Israelite Board of Rabbis)


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