Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, 93, was anesthetized and put back on a respirator by doctors at Hadassah University Hospital Sunday, just three days after regaining consciousness.
“As we said in the beginning when we removed the breathing tubes, it will take several days to assess whether the rabbi has the strength and is in a condition to breathe without a respirator,” Prof. Dan Gilon, the cardiologist treating Yosef, said. “Over the last two days, there have been ups and downs regarding the possibility of renewing artificial respiration.”
Gilon added that doctors had discovered a new infection in the spiritual leader’s blood that required antibiotic treatment, but there had been no substantial deterioration in his condition due to the infection.
“Is the rabbi’s life in danger? Yes, the rabbi with his illnesses and his age is in mortal danger,” Gilon said. “We get the impression that he does not face any immediate danger. However, we should always remember that he is gravely ill and that his life is danger.”
Yosef was hospitalized September 21 and underwent surgery to install a temporary pacemaker. At the time, Gilon said the rabbi had problems with his kidneys, heart and lungs. His health took a dramatic turn for the worse later last month when he fell into a coma. Supporters staged a number of prayer rallies on his behalf and last week he regained consciousness and was taken off a breathing machine.
On top of steering Shas, the fifth-largest party in the Knesset and the political voice of many of the country’s Sephardic Jews, former chief rabbi Yosef also heads the Badatz Beit Yosef kashrut certification organization — a business reportedly worth tens of millions of shekels. A number of his sons and relatives serve as municipal rabbis, controlling kosher certification, and one son, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, was recently elected chief Sephardic rabbi.
Since founding the Shas party, Yosef has always dictated its candidate lists for each election.