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600,000 Attend Ovadia Yosef’s Funeral

The influential rabbi draws the country’s largest funeral crowd in history

Adam Chandler
October 07, 2013

Update, 2:13 p.m.: The Times of Israel is now estimating the crowd to be 600,000 strong. That’s just less than 8% of the population of Israel.


No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather.

I don’t remember where this quote comes from, but I can only think of one instance in which it has not seemed true–this past February at Hizzoner Ed Koch’s funeral, where, despite a frigid, windy February day, the house was packed.

The weather today in Jerusalem was pretty pleasant. But as Israel mourned the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, there is still something stunning about the fact that more than half a million people attended his funeral. From the AP:

Yosef’s death set off a tremendous wave of public mourning. Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of religious neighborhoods after his death, crying, chanting prayers for the dead and tearing their clothes in a show of grief.

His funeral brought large parts of Jerusalem to a standstill. Police said more than 500,000 people attended, making it the largest funeral in the country’s history. A black-clad sea of mourners engulfed the van carrying Yosef’s body to the cemetery, preventing it from moving as dozens of security men pushed the crowd back.

To put it another way, that’s over 6% of the country. For a nuanced look at the man, check out Yair Rosenberg’s piece here.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.