JERUSALEM, July 19 (UPI) -- Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, one of the major leaders among Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jews, has died after a long illness. He was 102.
Elyashiv, who had been in the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem since February, suffered from congestive heart failure, The Jerusalem Post reported. He died of the condition Wednesday afternoon.
Following Jewish custom, Elyashiv was buried quickly. Police estimated about 250,000 people joined the procession Wednesday evening from his modest apartment in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood to Har Hamenuchot Cemetery.
Following Elyashiv's wishes, the mourners recited psalms, but there were no eulogies.
Elyashiv, born in Lithuania, came to Palestine at the age of 12. He married Sheina Chaya, daughter of a prominent rabbi, Aryeh Levin, and fathered 12 children. He outlived his wife and five of his children but shortly before his death became a great-great-great-grandfather and had about 1,000 descendants, The New York Times reported.
As a leader of the non-Hassidic ultra-Orthodox or haredi, Elyashiv was both a religious and political force. He provided spiritual guidance to the Degel Hatorah or "Lithuanian" party, which united with the Hassidic Agudat Yisrael group to make up the United Torah Judaism faction in the Knesset, or parliament.
"His entirety was Torah and fear of Heaven, and concern for the entire Jewish people and the individual in distress," Moshe Gafni, a Degel Hatorah MK, said. "His house was a source of strength for the people who benefited from the advice and wisdom which flowed from his greatness."