JERUSALEM, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a prominent religious and spiritual leader in Israel, died on Monday in Jerusalem at the age of 93.
Yosef has been hospitalized for the past several weeks in serious condition following problems with his heart.
He was the former chief rabbi of Israel's large community of Jews of Sephardi descent (descendants of Jews originating from the Iberian Peninsula and from Arab states) and was the spiritual leader of the prominent ultra-orthodox political party, Shas, an important figure both in the realms of the Jewish religion and in politics.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his sorrow over the death of Israel's most prominent religious figure.
Many of his followers considered him the highest authority on matters of the Jewish Halakha (the body of religious laws). Religious leaders have announced Monday a "day of atonement" and grief for his passing.
Besides his role in the religious sphere, he dictated the moves of Shas, the ultra-orthodox party which has been a crucial part of nearly all governments in the past decades and therefore had a profound effect in the political realm as well.