Hundreds of thousands remember Ultra-Orthodox Jewish spiritual leader

By Allen Cone  |  Dec. 12, 2017 at 10:40 AM
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Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Jewish ultra-Orthodox spiritual leader Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman died Tuesday and prompted hundreds of thousands to pay tribute in Israel. He was 104.

Shteinman died around 8 a.m. at Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak, The Times of Israel reported.

A short time later, several hundred thousand people attended the funeral of the leader of the Israeli non-Hasidic, Lithuanian Jewish community. The funeral procession began at his home.

Israel Radio reported police expected about 600,000 mourners. In his will, Shteinman said "10 people at my funeral would be enough."

Also in the will, he requested no eulogies, didn't want supporters to name children after him or any articles written about him after death.

Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, a 94-year-old rabbi who will likely become new leader, gave a speech about Shteinman.

Steinman was considered the top leader of Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, since Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv's death in 2012. He was also the spiritual leader of the Degel Hatorah faction of the United Torah Judaism political party.

Born in 1913 in Belarus, Shteinman studied in Switzerland and emigrated to British-mandated Palestine in 1945.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the rabbi's "true love" of the Jewish people.

"With the death of Rav Steinman, the Jewish people lost a central beacon of spirituality, heritage and ethics," Netanyahu said. "[He] was an important link in the chain of Torah which spans millennia. His memory will forever remain in the pages of our nation's heritage."

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called Steinman "a giant of Torah and a guide who instructed the lives of thousands upon thousands," and said "despite his firm views, he knew how to present his opinions in a gentle way, with a deep love for every Jew. His wisdom was second only to his humility."

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