Peres with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Peres with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Yosef Avi Yair Engel

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef visited President Shimon Peres on Thursday in a "shiva" call, the visit made to mourners who have lost a family member. Peres' wife Sonia passed away on Thursday.

He was accompanied by Ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias, both members of Shas.

Rabbi Yosef, a leading figure in the realm of Jewish law and spiritual head of the Shas party, praised the late Mrs. Peres. Sonia was a modest woman who spent her life engaged in kindness, giving quietly behind the scenes to those in need, he said.

Peres praised Rabbi Yosef over his recent ruling that IDF conversions are valid. The conversions had been cast into doubt due to concerns that soldiers were allowed to convert even if they did not plan to abide by Jewish law (halacha).

“Your greatness in Torah allowed you to make this important ruling, which strengthens and unifies the Jewish people,” Peres told Rabbi Yosef. The rabbi told Peres that his goal had been to maintain Jewish unity within the framework of halacha.

Several leading rabbis in the Litvak (Lithuanian) branch of the hareidi-religious world, among them Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, remain opposed to the IDF conversions.

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