Hacham Ovadia Yavetz

A Short Tribute

Hacham Ovadia Yavetz, son of Yaakov, was born circa 1922 in Sa'dah, Yemen. As a child he learned Torah from his father and grandfather. By the age of 20 he had been ordained to the rabbinate, and was serving as a shochet and mohel. His grandfather died in 1941, and Hacham Ovadia Yavetz's father replaced him as president of the rabbinic court of Sa'dah and its surrounding region. A short time later, his father died as well, and Hacham Ovadia Yavetz replaced him in his position, becoming the rabbi of Sa'dah and its surrounding region.

In 1949 Hacham Ovadia Yavetz organized his community for its immigration to Israel. He reached the immigrant camps in Aden and, from there, immigrated to Israel. He left for Yemen in 1959 as an emissary of the Jewish Agency to encourage Jewish immigration.

In 1960, Hacham Ovadia Yavetz was appointed rabbi of Kiryat Eqron. He filled this role for fifty years, until his death. Hacham Ovadia Yavetz was famous for his humility, honesty and moderate approach.

Hacham Ovadia Yavetz passed away on 12 Shevat, 5771 (2011) and was buried in Kiryat Eqron.

Hacham Ovadia Yavetz is the author of Afikei Ma'im – original commentary on the Torah, Sefat Yeshenim – responsa on Halakha of ritual slaughter and treifot, Darkei No'am – responsa, and Sa'dah and its Surrounding Region – a History of the Jews of Yemen.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Redemption of Israel' in which he tells of the organization of immigration to Israel from the high mountains of the West

We began to organize the immigrants from Sa'dah in large groups for the purpose of their immigration. During the activists' meetings we decided that Rabbi Moshe Amar, Yaakov Amar, of blessed memory, and I would travel to western Yemen, to the land of the high mountains, to share the news of the redemption with our brethren and encourage them to immigrate… Praise be the LORD, all residents of the region were convinced by our words, and accepted to leave Yemen and immigrate to the Land of Israel. They explained to us that they would undertake this holy mission once they had severed business ties with their Arab neighbors and after selling their property. One should mention that the land of the West benefits from ample rains and is known for its high agricultural yield… Also, our brethren lived in security among our cousins, the sons of Ismael. These precious Jews nevertheless agreed to leave their property behind and to set out for a journey towards the unknown, all in order to fulfill a prayer thousands of years old.

The Jews of Sa'dah and its Surrounding Region, pp. 124 – 125, The Committee for the Publication of Rabbi Ovadia's Books, Ahavat Teiman Publishing, Kiryat Eqron, 2012