Thousands of mourners flocked to Jerusalem for the funeral of Rabbi Refael Shmuelevitz, who passed away at the age of 78 on Monday after battling a long illness.
Rabbi Shmuelevitz was the Rosh Yeshiva, or dean, of the prestigious Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He had been suffering for many years from two serious diseases: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Myasthenia Gravis.
He passed away in Jerusalem’s Shaarei Tzedek Hospital following a deterioration in his condition in recent days.
Born in Poland, he was a scion of a prestigious Ashkenazic rabbinical family, and son of the famed Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz.
A dedicated scholar, following the Nazi invasion of Poland he followed the Mir Yeshiva to Vilnius in neighboring Lithuania, and then on to Japan and Shanghai, before it eventually settled in Israel.
In 2012, Rabbi Shmuelevitz was among several dozen participants in a trial of a revolutionary new stem cell treatment for ALS sufferers.
The once wheelchair-bound sage, who also had difficulty talking due to the degenerative illness, underwent an incredible short-term recovery, learning to walk on his own again and speak clearly.
However, the treatment was not a cure, and he continued to battle the disease for the remaining years of his life.
The funeral procession began in Jerusalem’s Meah Shearim neighborhood and ended at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery, where Rabbi Refael Shmuelevitz was laid to rest.