Ovadia Yosef | Influential rabbi, 93
To supporters, he was a revered sage who empowered masses of disenfranchised Sephardic Jews. Among secular Israelis, he was widely perceived as a medieval figure.
But through his control of Shas, Rabbi Yosef wielded influence over all Israelis. He left no clear successor, raising questions about Shas' future.
"We've been left orphans," the party's political leader, Aryeh Deri, wailed at a funeral ceremony Monday evening.
He came to national prominence as Israel's chief Sephardic rabbi from 1972 to 1983. While revered by his followers, critics charged that he exacerbated tensions between Ashkenazi, or European Jews, and Sephardic Israelis.
He parlayed his religious authority into political power, founding Shas in the early 1980s.
It gathered just four seats in the 120-seat parliament in its first election, in 1984. At its peak, Shas won 17 seats in 1999, making it the third-largest party. Even after being hit by scandals, it remained a midsize party that delivered a string of prime ministers their parliamentary majority. Shas now has 11 seats and sits in the opposition. - AP