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Thousands mourn rabbi, 104

GRIEF: Every vantage point at the funeral

RABBI Aharon Leib Shteinman, the spiritual leader of Israel's non-chassidic ultra-Orthodox Jews of European descent and one of the country's most influential and powerful rabbis, died, aged 104.

Hundreds of thousands attended his funeral in the ultra-Orthodox Israeli city of Bnei Brak.

Rabbi Shteinman was seen as the leading voice of the entire community on many issues of religion and state. Following the 2012 death of his predecessor, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, he was widely regarded as "Gadol Hador" or "leader of the generation".

He was known for his rabbinic scholarship, his relatively pragmatic rulings and extremely modest lifestyle.

Rabbi Shteinman was often called to judge on sensitive matters such as how much the traditionally insular community should integrate with the larger Israeli society, embrace technology, pursue higher education, work or agree to serve in the military.

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin praised Rabbi Shteinman as a leader who "carried on his shoulders the existential weight of the Jewish people”.


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