Israel’s former chief rabbi Eliahou Bakshi-Doron, who was known for promoting interfaith dialogue, died Sunday (April 12) of the new coronavirus, the Shaare Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem said.
Bakshi-Doron, 79, was the Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel between 1993 and 2003. Born in Jerusalem in 1941, he was chief rabbi of the northern port city of Haifa for 18 years before being elected chief rabbi of Israel. He met Pope John Paul II in 2000 during the pontiffs visit to Israel, sparking criticism from some ultra-Orthodox rabbis.
An advocate of interfaith dialogue, he increased engagement with Muslim and Christian leaders. His reputation was, however, somewhat tarnished when he was handed a one-year suspended prison sentence for corruption and breach of trust in 2017. The rabbi was hospitalised some days ago but suffered from pre-existing conditions that led to his condition deteriorating, the hospital said in a statement.