Hundreds commemorate Jewish sage at his tomb in southern Israel

Slideshow ( 8 images )

NETIVOT, Israel (Reuters) - Hundreds of Jewish worshippers made a pilgrimage on Thursday to the tomb in southern Israel of a sage revered by his followers as a miracle-maker.

Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, better known as “Baba Sali”, is commemorated each year in the town of Netivot near the Gaza Strip, mainly by Jews of Moroccan descent.

The pilgrimage to the mystic’s tomb is held on the Jewish-calendar anniversary of his death and part of the memorial ritual involves faithful prostrating themselves on his grave stone and tossing unlit candles into a furnace.

Abuhatzeira was noted for his piety and was revered by his followers, who believed in his ability to perform miracles and heal the sick, among other means, through sprinkling drops of water on them.

Israeli politicians of North African descent have also used Abuhatzeira to rally their voters. He was born in Morocco either in 1889 or 1890 where he spent most of his life studying the Hebrew scriptures. He settled in Israel in 1970.

Reporting by Amir Cohen; Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Alison Williams