ELIYAHU, MORDECHAI (1929– ), Israeli religious leader, kabbalist, and former Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel. Born into a Jerusalem family of little means, Eliyahu was 11 years old when his father and teacher, Ḥakham Salman Eliyahu, passed away. Eliyahu then continued his studies at Yeshivat Porat Yosef with the Rabbi Ezra Attiah. For a number of years he studied with Rabbi Karelitz Abraham Yeshaya *Karelitz, the Ḥazon Ish. He graduated from the Institute of Rabbis and Religious Judges headed by Rabbi Isaac *Nissim, the former chief rabbi of Israel. Upon graduation he became the youngest dayyan (religious court judge) appointed to a religious court in Israel. He served on the rabbinic court in Beersheba for four years and then transferred to the court in Jerusalem. Eventually, he was elected to the High Rabbinic Court, where he continued to serve. In 1983 he was elected Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel and served one term until 1993. During his term as chief rabbi and afterwards, as well, Eliyahu, together with his colleague, Chief Rabbi Abraham *Shapira, became one of the spiritual leaders of the religious Zionist camp in Israel. For over 20 years, he spoke out on political and social issues of concern to religious Zionism. During the events leading up to the Israeli government's disengagement from Gaza in 2005, he was a vocal opponent of the removal of the Jews from their homes and the uprooting of Jewish communities in Gaza.
Eliyahu is the author of several popular works on halakhah, including Darkhei Taharah, about the laws of family purity (published in five languages); an annotated and updated edition of the Kiẓẓur Shulḥan Arukh; a Sephardi rite siddur; and various pamphlets regarding Jewish law. Every Monday Rav Eliyahu taught a shi'ur (lesson) that could be heard on the radio over the Internet and by satellite in 250 localities throughout Israel. He also had his own website: http://www.harav.org. Eliyahu's second son, samuel, was chief rabbi of Safed. Eliyahu was recognized as a posek (halakhic decisor) and kabbalist, with many coming to him with their halakhic questions and for personal advice.
[David Derovan (2nd ed.)]