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R. Berland a free man in Amsterdam

  • Berland free.png
STOP PRESS: Full story to be posted Monday – here is the abridged version, from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Rabbi Eliezer Berland was released by a Dutch court on Friday. He has had to surrender his passport and is free to go anywhere in the European Union. He is not under house arrest. Read earlier stories today for links to the back-story - and see full post Monday.
by Jewish Report | Sep 14, 2014

 Jewish Report has reliably learned that Rabbi Berland, together with his wife, his friend Yaron Yamin (and possibly a fourth person) flew out of ORT International Airport on a regular commercial flight on Wednesday night.

Rabbi Berland did have a ticket booked to fly to Uman on Saturday night but his followers were concerned after the latest attempt to arrest him and so they encouraged him to leave earlier than expected.

Followers celebrate at the Kotel
CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO

As the plane landed in the Netherlands on Thursday morning, Dutch police boarded and told Rabbi Berland that they believed he was wanted in Israel. They detained him for six hours while Israeli police tried to come up with an arrest warrant, according to SAJR’s source, at which point the Israeli police explained that he was only wanted for questioning.

On Friday at 12:15, the matter was brought before a Dutch court. The Israelis presented documents including an OPS warrant – being a notice to confirm that he is wanted for questioning – but not an arrest warrant.

Rabbi Berland’s followers sent a top Israeli lawyer, Sharon Nahari, who had no knowledge of the case or of the Shuvu Bonim Breslovers prior to then. He was assisted a by a top Dutch, Chareidi lawyer, Levenstein (first name unknown at this stage – but he has been involved in the matter to fighting the possible shechita ban in Holland.)

Neither man had ever had anything to do with the case before – and yet, Jewish Report believes, Nahari said afterwards that it was a historical precedent in that it was the first time ever that Israel had requested an extradition from a European country which was declined on its first hearing, not remanded for a later date or resulting in a house arrest.

“It was a miracle that they were able to do everything overnight, literally,” said Jewish Report’s source.

The outcome was that Israel has been told they have not met their burden of proof, and that if they can come back at a later date and present an arrest warrant to the court another hearing will be set. This could take up to a year the lawyers are reported to have told followers.

Asked after the court case why he was running away if he was innocent of the charges police want to question him about, Rav Berland is reported to have pointed out that he did not “run away” from Israel, he had left of his own free will and long before the police even wanted to question him.

“The truth of the matter is that there never was an Israeli arrest warrant,” said Jewish Report’s source, Yossi.

Lawyer Nahari, in answer to Yossi’s concern for Rabbi Berland’s health on Friday night, said: “I see in front of me a 25-year-old man,” and proceeded to espouse how amazed he was at how fit and alert the 78-year-old rabbi had been.

The matter is top of Israeli news and the Shuvo Bonim Yeshiva was receiving so many calls for updates that they opened a special information phone line which is constantly updated and has interviews with the lawyers, etc, obviously only in Hebrew.

SAJR Online users in Israel can call 058 328-7777 and from outside Israel it is +972 58 328-7777. This, says Yossi, is constantly being updated.

Followers of Rabbi Berland in SA and from around the world are flocking to Holland and Uman, says Yossi. Although Ukraine is not yet an EU state, Rav Berland’s lawyers are trying to arrange for him to attend the Rosh Hashanah Kibbutz pilgrimage there.

In the case of followers presently in SA and going to Uman, their wives and children are going back to Israel on every available flight, says Yossi.

“People of Johannesburg will be getting the quiet they wanted,” said Yossi, but added that he was sure Johannesburg Jewry had benefited from Rav Berland’s presence having been here.

10 Comments

  1. 10 Samuel Shalom 15 Sep
    "The outcome was that Israel has been told [by The Netherlands] they have not met their burden of proof, and that if they can come back at a later date and present an arrest warrant to the court another hearing will be set. This could take up to a year the lawyers are reported to have told followers."

    Hmm, let's get this straight, South Africa's legal system is "better" or "holier" than Holland's?

    How come if in Holland the Israeli police were found to be presenting a flawed and phoney fake "legal argument" in a matter of hours, with the help of some good Jewish lawyers, yet in South Africa the same points could not be made to let Berland out and be free? The Dutch are in fact letting Berland go freely all over the European Union! While in South Africa poor old Berland had to hide away and couldn't travel about without some idiotic keystone cops trying to arrest him...for what?...exactly...pray tell??? Oh yes, that great "tzadik" Robert Mugabe also kicked Berland out of Zimbabwe of all places. Zimbabwe of course is known as a paragon state of justice, freedom for all, and democracy! NOT!

    The answer is that the [Unsubstantiated allegation   -ED] in South Africa decided that they are somehow an "official" branch of the Israeli police and justice system and decided to take it on themselves to "enforce" something that was not even there since as it now comes out even the Israelis had to scramble to PROVE that there was an "arrest warrant" out for Berland which there was not. As the reports make clear, Berland was wanted for "questioning" only! But to the [Unsubstantiated allegation   -ED] 
    that somehow meant they got themselves a "license to kill" off poor old Berland and be brutal to his followers on the streets as they froze and had no housing yet remained put out of the Breslov followers' loyalty to their rabbi, Reb Berland.

    The REAL reason of the South African hostility was that the [Unsubstantiated allegation   -ED] realized VERY quickly that since Berland had the power to threaten their religious-appeal base, meaning he could do Jewish outreach to the masses as well as if not better than the [Unsubstantiated allegation   -ED] could, that Berland was definitely more learned in Torah than [Unsubstantiated allegation   -ED], that therefore Berland posed a true threat to everything the [Unsubstantiated allegation   -ED] wants to do in his way.

    The unexpected arrival of Berland upturned the apple cart. All of a sudden the Zionistic and Jew-loving community of South Africa was incited to hate the Jewish arrivals from Israel and their Israeli rabbi.

    Suddenly it was a case of Berland's version of "Zionism" versus the long-held stale way of doing things in South Africa. An unwelcome wake-up call that instead of bringing out the best in everyone, brought out the worst fears and ignited paroxysm of xenophobia and convulsive loathing for the very Chasidic and modern yet radical Israeli Breslovers! Like an irresistible force meeting an immovable object -- but it did not have to be that way.

    Just look at how they treated Berland in Holland. They simply yawned and let him run free and let the chips fall where they may.That is the correct way in a modern society that believes in and practices 100% freedom of religion! Why treat such an old eccentric rabbi as if he were a "Hitler" ch"v in your midst when all he is it turns out is that maybe he's just a bit of a [Unsubstantiated allegation   -ED] the way all blokes are [expunged   -ED] when they get old. And even that was not proven in any official.

    Yes, ignore him, throw him out of your shul, don't follow him, but still, living in a free society means he is still human and has his human and legal rights. Especially since that is the way many [expunged   -ED] local rabbinic miscreants are treated with freedom and dignity and nothing ever happens to them, except that their wives kick then out of the house and they have to live in a cottage in the back yet still keep on being rabbis to the masses.

    Why is nothing done about that in South Africa when it is common knowledge to many people as to what goes on?! Answer: It's known as a double standard or simply as hypocrisy!

    This is a great slap in the face to what [Unsubstantiated allegation   -ED] got up to during Berland's stay in South Africa. What they should have done is at the least yawned and said "we do not control the universe" and "we do not pass judgement on fellow Jews" especially fugitives from the very shady and ruthless Israeli police who hate the very religious Jews like the Charedi Berland and look for any excuse to destroy them.                 

    Well, at least the Dutch authorities did not fall for the chutzpa of the Israelis who think and act as if they own the world especially when it comes to their abuse of and mistreatment of Charedim.

    No one really knows what happened with Berland and who those people were that alleged he had unwanted sex with some girls. What goes on in closed religious groups where people opt to live in them as if in cults is beyond most people's grasp. If someone wants to join a cult they have to live with the consequences. Who told those people who accuse Berland to join his outfit and follow such a narrow and mysterious cultic group? There are surely better rabbis to follow. All this is not known and unclear and even the vaunted Israeli police are still trying to sort through all the conflicting information.

    If you didn't know by the way, Berland's Breslov group has made serious inroads into secular Israeli society by attracting adherents and followers from all strata of secular Israeli society. They have had the power under Berland's leadership to attract top people from family members of famous Israeli politicians, military leaders, and the elites as well as from other strata of Israeli society. That is a big reason why Berland and his group are so feared by the Israeli powers that be and why they so eagerly seized on the failings of Berland's personality and tried to bring him down once and for all. But so far he has managed to stay more than one step ahead of his pursuers.

    In Jewish terms Berland has become the classical NIRDAF while those chasing him are classical NIRDAFIM and perhaps that is why he has merited all these obvious salvations from doom and destruction and why he is just lives on like a cat with nine thousand lives and more to spare.

    All this was lost on South African Jewry though, most only heard the pious protests and pronouncements of Mrs. Hendler and [Unsubstantiated allegation   -ED] and they uttered their feeble nonsense based now on NO proof as the Dutch authorities and legal system were able to realize within hours while the South Africans disgraced themselves with going to the incompetent and corrupt South African police that was just a joke in the end.
     
    What an amazing drama!

    Thanks for your contribution, Sam, but please understand that we cannot allow you to make "unsubstantiated allegations" which could land us all foul of the law. If you have ant credible evidence to this effect, please do not hesitate to send to [email protected]  -ED


  2. 9 Samuel Shalom 15 Sep
    "Thanks for your contribution, Sam, but please understand that we cannot allow you to make "unsubstantiated allegations" which could land us all foul of the law. If you have ant credible evidence to this effect, please do not hesitate to send to [email protected]  -ED"

    Dear Editor: Thank you so much for your feedback! Thank you also most kindly for hosting my comments. May I just point out that most of the blanked out names above that you have replaced with either "[Unsubstantiated allegation   -ED]" or "[expunged   -ED]" can be found verbatim in the plentiful news and reports you have published about this drama over the months in your own publication. As you well know when writing it is not easy referring and linking to the multitudinous articles as if it was a legal brief. But for anyone who has been following the Berland case closely and reading your fairly detailed reporting on it they will be able to easy connect what I have stated with the other articles in your publication about Berland.

    The comments and commentary I have been posting on your pages is based on detailed first-hand knowledge and a deep understanding of South African Jewry as well as a good general knowledge about Charedi life worldwide and Israeli politics. It is a very complicated and complex interplay of factors and information that meshes religion, politics, current affairs, sociology, psychology, communal affairs, rabbinic in fighting and much more. Most people have not had the time or do not get what this is all about but rather tend to simplify things and talk in platitudes and adhere to conventional politically correct group-think, something that I try to avoid.

    However I do appreciate your concerns and I apologize for any unintended problems. The inside information about the goings on behind the scenes in rabbinical and Jewish life in South Africa is not something one can glean from "published" reports or from any known news sources. Rather the information I have received over a long time comes from people, both laymen and professionals, who have had a close interaction with rabbis in the community, and they have witnessed first hand problems of moral laxness (understatement) and even separation between otherwise respectable rabbinic couples that the public is not aware of but is well-know to the types of people, such as meshulochim who come to the homes of rabbis and discover that something is rotten in these Denmarks. More than this cannot be said at this time out of fear of the consequences if the witnesses were named and what would happen to them if they were outed. So let's just leave this at that.

    Yet there is a relatively recent case of a very prominent local rabbi at one time from Pretoria that was widely reported in the local South African as well as in the international media a few years ago who was famously caught cheating with another man's wife that was discovered to be part of a wider pattern and as a result this rabbi was forced to resign in disgrace. Those who know about this will not need his name mentioned and it is a shame to his family and children and former wife who are all very respected and respectable people who did not deserve what was inflicted on them by the sins of their father/husband.

    The point is that in the case of that rabbi there has been an acceptance and forgiveness and rehabilitation by the same higher ups that so relentlessly hunted Berland. Supposedly he has changed his ways and has been allowed to resume his activities in South Africa albeit on a low scale and not in any real official capacity. But he is not being given "the Berland treatment" and never was. His case was treated with compassion to the point of cover-up even though he committed the most reprehensible things for a supposed leading rabbi and scholar. He has been given a second chance while Berland was hunted like a beast and he and his followers were humiliated to the point of it seeming like being "Anti-Semitism" of Jews against fellow-Jews!

    Another point is that when writing an analysis what counts is the logic and insight and obvious familiarity with the subject in a way that intelligence analysts work, it's not like writing an essay for university with citations at every line, but rather it's more about putting together the information and dotting the i's and crossing the tees that hopefully has been informative and insightful and not misleading and certainly not wrong.

    As they teach at university, first there is DESCRIPTION that is based on asking questions of "who?" and "what?" and "when?" and "where?" all of which can and should be backed up with solid information and sources, but then there comes EXPLANATION that is more complex that seeks to answer the question of "WHY?" which cannot be derived from facts alone but is what comes out of absorbing, analyzing, understanding the raw data and information and presenting the essence and truth and real reality behind the outward facts.

    So once again, thanks for your patience and please let me know of your comments. I will of course contact you directly if need be if the situation requires it!

    Shalom and Shanah Tova UmeTuka!

    Thanks again for the positive contribution Sam. and Shanah Tova UmeTuka to you and yours too! Your comment clearly indicates your understanding and insight into what is fact and what is supposition and hearsay goes way beyond the layman’s. So you obviously understand the potential legal ramifications we are protecting both yourself and ourselves from by having ‘censored’ what we have no direct knowledge or evidence of.   –online editor



  3. 8 Dave Greenwood 15 Sep
    At the very least (Rabbi) Warren Goldstein and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies should issue a public apology for both these parties have been very vocal, and did not try to hard the fact that they are working hard to get rid of Rabbi Berland and his students. 
    If there are any "unsubstantiated allegations" they are the allegations which were placed on Rabbi Berland, which were given strength by the media and SA's dear Rabbi.
    We are now standing before the high holy-days at a time where all Jews ask thier fellow Jews forgiveness. All eyes are turned to Rabbi Goldstein, stand up strong Rabbi and say where you stand.
  4. 7 Samuel Shalom 15 Sep
    "Thanks again for the positive contribution Sam. and Shanah Tova UmeTuka to you and yours too! Your comment clearly indicates your understanding and insight into what is fact and what is supposition and hearsay goes way beyond the layman’s. So you obviously understand the potential legal ramifications we are protecting both yourself and ourselves from by having ‘censored’ what we have no direct knowledge or evidence of. –online editor"

    Indeed, and thank you! Please censor anything you feel should not be in my comments, I leave that up to you as a professional publication adhering to proper journalistic ethics. If there is anything that you feel "crosses the line" from me then by all means you are the ones wielding the proverbial "red pen" and it is your duty and responsibility not to allow anyone to be offended.

    However that which is already in the public domain by means of the mainstream media, and by that I include your official reporting, with that there are no "secrets" about that and there should be no "beating around the bush" and a spade can be called a spade!

    Berland's fate is far from certain. He will still face extradition to Israel and face justice over there. The Israeli authorities are very stubborn. If they got Eichman in Argentina under the noses of his friends and protectors, or the way they brought nuclear spy Wanunu luring him back "home" to Israel with the enticement of woman spy, they can just easily catch Berland.

    As you can tell I am no fan of Berland's at all.

    But just by looking at what happened to him the minute he landed in South Africa and how the rabbinic establishment reacted to him was all rather odd and dissonant. Starting at ground level how local Jewish people were incited to have no mercy on the Breslovers who followed Berland to South Africa that was so un-Jewish when Judaism teaches to welcome the stranger in your midst to house and and feed them with no questions asked. Instead the followers of Berland were all tainted through guilt by association as if they too were "wanted" by the Israeli police, when they were just a random collection of ultra-Orthodox nebechs. Then the shrill nature of the announcements against Berland, with the demonstrations, was that really necessary? It was way overboard and overkill. Then setting up the police to hunt down Berland as if he was some sort of "terrorist" was crazy.

    The Chief Rabbi and the Beth Din could have issued an advisory, as the the SABJD has now issued an advisory warning about the dangers facing the community from possible real terrorism over the Chagim, and then just left it at that. It became too much of a fox hunt. While Berland may have committed all the things he was accused of, the way he was hunted and his followers shunned was disgraceful. As they say, there are more ways than one to skin a cat!

    By the way, there is an intriguing video on YOUTUBE from one of the Breslov leaders in Israel who had opposed Berland long before the current scandals broke, who spoke out against Berland and predicted his downfall, it's fascinating to watch, note the way it's couched in "Messinaicianic" terms par for the course the way all Chasidim think and act in terms of such hyperbole and magical thinking:

    The Moshiach says that the 'Rabbi' Berland will fall:
    Uploaded on Jun 18, 2011. The Moshiach says that the 'Rabbi' Berland will fall like all the liars. אדמור אדמור אדמור.... [ אדמור ברלנד] הוא יפול כמו כל השקרנים
  5. 6 Barry 15 Sep
    One of the big problems from the beginning was that  many of the Shuva Banim followers came here with their families and had no financial support whatsoever,and that the rabbi by association seemed to acquiesce to this. Many people have and still help and support these people with money and accomodation. Be that as it may,it goes against the grain of the ethos of many people who go to work everyday and battle to make a living and see these people and many like them not working and having to beg in order to sustain themselves.If that is what the scenario is and will be in Israel where many people are becoming mekareved to Shuvu Banim,then the situation will be compounded manifold with many more having to beg.
    Its one thing to live "above nature",its another to be a burden on the community. It also goes against halacha. R Nachman`s main tenet was to go according to halacha.
  6. 5 Yossi 15 Sep
    Samuel, it's interesting you added that link at the end. That is supposedly a recording of Rabbi Yisroel Odesser who was a very close associate of Rabbi Berlands, they learned together chavrusa and loved each-other dearly as any of the old Breslovers will tell you. 

    After Rabbi Odesser passed away, some of his students who began the NaNach movement went off the deep end and consider Rabbi Odesser the Messiah and the only rightsous person on the planet. It is a small group of the NaNachs who decided that the only thing that Judaism consists of is jumping up and down and repeating the mantra "na nach nachman nachman m'uman", they have banished the study of all Jewish books including the books of Rebbe Nachman himself.
    They consider Rabbi Berland their biggest threat for he is a Breslov tzaddik, the number of his chassidim have surpassed the NaNach chassidim by far, and he preaches the importance of study and using ones brain in Judaism.

    Not all Na Nachs are like that and I do not intend to disqualify them all. My point is that, knowing the story from the inside, it is these small group of Na Nach's who have been planning for years to make their self-fulfilling prophecy that "Rabbi Berland will fall" come true.

    It is not a secret here in Israel that the person N.S. (I will not say his name) who went on live TV to begin the false allegations against Rabbi Berland is a Na Nach chassid and together with his friends they were (and still are) trying to make the "prophecy" come true at all costs.

    The above video published in 2011 just goes to show how long they've been working at it.
  7. 4 Samuel Shalom 16 Sep
    @Yossi 15 Sep thank you for your above comments that help to explain a big part of the big puzzle. When  I came across the video of the late Rabbi Odesser that I posted above I was struck how he was able to "predict" what would happen to Reb Berland in the future. I was even wondering if he even said those words or if it was dubbed in later to make it sound and look like he is saying it because if you look closely at the video you can see that the words do not always match the lip movements. But it sort of does look authentic. So who knows? Thank you for connecting the dots and explaining another big dimension of this huge drama, the infighting between different groups within Breslov.

    As we can see from the current situation, machloket and sinat chinam between any groups of Jews can and do cause huge damage to everyone concerned.

    If it is any consolation to you, please accept an apology for the way that certain people treated Rabbi Berland and his Chasidim in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Morocco (all countries in Africa). It is hard to know what is true and false when so many serious allegations are flying around.

    Now we find out, thanks to the Dutch courts, that there was never an arrest warrant to justify any arrest of Berland anywhere outside of Israel. Why couldn't the Beth Din and lawyers and the police in South Africa (with its good justice system based on Roman-Dutch law)  find out the same? The are just as good Jewish and other lawyers in South Africa as there are in Holland who could have clarified. If chas veshalom Rabbi Berland made mistakes and we are all human and make mistakes, even Moshe Rabbeinu and Dovid Hamelech made mistakes, by now Rabbi Berland has for sure done teshuva and for sure he has a kappara from all the yissurim, redifot and galuyot he is suffering and being subjected to. May HKB"H give him shalva umenucha bekarov, and let there be true Shalom al Yisrael, Amen!

    But most of all, there was no reason that the Breslov Chasidim that came to South Africa should have been treated so roughly by so many people. Rather than complaints against them they should have been offered jobs and ways out of their situation. Had Rabbi Berland made South Africa his home, then for sure all the followers would have had to find permanent homes and a way to make a parnasa.

    Wishing you and all of Klal Yisrael a Shanah Tova and a Ketivah Vechatimah Tova!
  8. 3 Yossi 16 Sep
    Thank you for your comment Samuel. You can be certain that the Rabbi and his chassidim that follow his teachings certainly forgive everyone with a full heart, as you can SEE HERE from the story that I wrote in a comment on Howard Feldmans nice article.
    We are praying for the people of South Africa...

    At a time when all world Jewry is at danger from rising anti-semitism such as hasn't been seen since the Holocaust, we wish all of Klal Yosroel a Ketivah Vechatimah Tova Shetikatvu B'sefer Hachaim! 
  9. 2 Phillip 17 Sep
    It is no secret that the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of a causeless, baseless hatred that was so extreme between Jews, that until that time nothing quite like it had been known of.
    For many of us in Jo'burg the epoch making Losh on Hara regarding Rabbi Berland and his followers actaully quite fits this bill. We all want to know why we have not yet had the merit of witnessing the Ultimate time of Moshiach - Well, may be just may be, we need to get our own house in order, first and foremost by showing an unconditional love for ALL Jews, and understnad the teaching of the Sages of the Talmud "Do not judge a person until you have stood in his place".
    The track record of this community is a disgrace - and the people who lead should show an aptitude for TOrah values - failing which they ought to be rejected with the contempt they and their actions rightly deserve.
  10. 1 Chaim 21 Sep
    Though I myself am not a follower of Rav Berland, I have commented in the past regarding this issue.  The allegations against Rav Berland are utterly senseless, and have the ring of typical mud-slinging (all too common in the both the mideast today and in Easten Europe, the state of Israel being unfortunately no exception) in a very inconsisteant and distorted fashion. I say this with confidence, as I have been in close contact myself with unstable people for a good part of my life (at one point working as a kashrus mashgiach in a mental hospital), and can, at some point, sense where it is present.

    As I mentioned previously - it is quite shameful for the "hawks" to busy themselves repeatedly chasing down a 77 year old Rabbi from a foreign country - based on erratic reports from abroad - while their own country has the world's highest crime rate. (According to a report conducted approximately 10 years ago, a girl was being raped in S.A. on average every 3 minutes!) 

    In addition to all this rhetoric - I personally recall seeing in the Shuvu Banim yeshiva in Jerusalem's Old City a sign warning his students (regarding a then  controversial issue) that anyone involving himself in this controversy in defence of the Rav - the Rav, Rabbi Berland himself would be personally offended at such intervention. [i.e. He did not wish to create conflict - even to his own defence.]

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