Men with long black coats and hats, shaved heads and mini-kippot, T-shirts and jean, were rushing toward Rav Mordechai Eliyahu's synagogue for eulogies and prayers. With every block, the crowds got tighter and a bit more uncomfortable.
My husband and I had driven to Jerusalem and were lucky to find a space only about six blocks away. We walked briskly with our friends, dodging people everywhere. Cars were parked in every possible spot or non-spot and at every angle. Their drivers simply popped out and began walking determinedly.
Streets fed into one another from every direction. When we'd gone as far as we could, we strained to hear what the megaphones proclaimed. Some people listened to a live broadcast on their cell phones. Others just stood watching the scene, trying sincerely to become one with the different kinds of people around them. Mourners surveying the crowd in amazement, kept repeating, "Am Yisrael. Am Yisrael."
Everyone seemed to be aware that the greatest tribute possible for Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, ztz'l, would be to acknowledge and smile upon one another despite their differences. The former Rishon LeZion (chief Sephardi rabbi) loved Jews of every kind. He reached out to the religious and the secular to bring them under the wings of Torah. How great it would be if his love for his fellow Jews could spill over to all of us.
Tribute after tribute, suddenly the funeral was over and the crowd poured out onto Kanfei Nesharim to walk HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu to his final resting place. The streets were bathed in gold and hundreds of thousands marched together, listening to the Jerusalem sounds and the echoes of Torah learning that still floated through the heavens from the study chambers of the unforgettable irreplaceable Rabbi HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu, ztz'l. May his memory be blessed.
To view a video of the funeral, click here: http://www.voices-magazine.com/index.php?page=inside_page&id=144&which=VTV