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Yitzhak Kaduri; Revered Rabbi, Kabbalah Teacher

January 29, 2006|From a Times Staff Writer

Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, one of the most revered Jewish holy men in Israel, who also taught the mystical form of Judaism called Kabbalah, has died. He was believed to have been at least 104.

Kaduri, who was admitted to a Jerusalem hospital earlier this month with pneumonia, died Saturday, Reuters news service reported.

During his life, followers flocked to his Jerusalem home to receive blessings, and politicians visited seeking to boost their popularity among devout Jews who saw him as a sage.

"This is a huge loss for all of Israel," Eli Yishai, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas political party, told Israel Radio. "He saved many with his prayers."

Kaduri, who immigrated to Israel at 17, worked for years as a bookbinder before becoming one of the best-known Kabbalists in Israel.

The ancient Jewish mystical tradition has become something of a craze in recent years in part because of interest by Madonna and other celebrities.

In April, a Jewish fertility charm blessed by Kaduri was given to Britain's Prince Charles as a wedding present by Judy Shalom, the wife of Silvan Shalom, who was then Israel's foreign minister.

The rabbi is believed to have been born before 1900 in what is now Iraq. His personal physician had estimated his age as between 104 and 108.

Twelve years ago, at the age of 90-plus, Kaduri married for the second time. The bride, Dorit, was then in her 40s, the Jerusalem Post reported.

In addition to his wife, Kaduri is survived by two children, Rachel and David, the Post said.

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