The Passing Of Rabbi Yosef – A Divisive Issue In The NYC Mayoral Race

(Monday, October 7th, 2013)

The passing of Maran HaRav Ovadia Yosef Z”l seems to have become a divisive issue in the race for Mayor of New York City. New York, the second largest gathering of Jews outside of Israel, is also home for over 70,000 Sephardic voters.

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio released a statement this morning, alluding to Rabbi Yosef’s great wisdon and sensitivity. “Millions of people around the world lost a leader today in Rabbi Chacham Ovadia Yosef. His wisdom, charity and sensitivity were legendary. My thoughts and prayers are with Chacham Ovadia’s family and the millions of mourners around the world,” a statement released by the office of the Public Advocate read.

Mr. de Blasio, who also tweeted his statement, faced backlash from tweeps who suggested Rabbi Yosef was a controversial and polarized figure.

But Mr. de Blasio defended his remarks. ”Rabbi Yosef was a spiritual leader to thousands of Israelis and New Yorkers,” Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the public advocate’s office, told the BBC. “Bill, like the US Ambassador to Israel, was offering his condolences, not an endorsement of his views.”

Mr. De Blasio’s opponent, however, Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota was more measured in his remarks about the Rabbi. “I mourn his death,” Mr. Lhota said at an event in Chinatown. “But I also know he’s made statements that, at the time, were unfortunate. He was the chief rabbi of Israel and we all mourn his death.”

Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield, a former head of the Sephardic Community Federation, lauded Mr. de Blasio for expressing his deepest condolences to the Orthodox Jewish community over the loss of a great sage, while slamming Mr. Lhota for his measured response.

“It’s a monumental event in the Jewish community in New York,” Mr. Greenfield explained to the WSJ. “He was the equivalent of the pope for Sephardic people and widely-respected as one of the great Torah sages of our time. He was a major political force and a moral leader around the world – in Panama, or here in Brooklyn.”

(Jacob Kornbluh – YWN)


2 Comments

  1. Aaron Chaim says:

    What do you expect from two politicians chasing votes. If it wasn’t the run up to an election, you wouldn’t have heard a word from either of them.

  2. jwander says:

    Well, I’m the Republican Nominee for Mayor of Pittsburgh and I went to the Levaya. Why make it political?

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