At noon on Monday, Oct. 28 — shortly before the conference at Shas headquarters in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim, filled with members of the party’s Knesset faction — some unknown person hung a photo on the wall showing Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Shas Party Chairman Aryeh Deri at a time when they were especially close. In an unusual move, Deri decided to hold Shas’ weekly meeting in its offices in Har Hotzvim, instead of at the Knesset. Within Shas, the decision was interpreted as an attempt by Deri to avoid contact with the media, just one week after his resounding failure in the local elections.
The mood in that crowded room was unsettled and tense. Some members of the party’s Knesset faction snickered when they noticed the lone photograph adorning the room’s stark white walls. The photo wasn’t there before, and it had obviously been put up hastily upon orders from above, not only to clarify who the real boss of the party was, but also who appointed him: the late Rabbi Yosef, who passed away this month on Oct. 7.