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No trial for Berland who'll serve little time

  • Rabbi Berland Holland Home
Rabbi Eliezer Berland (79), who spent time in South Africa on the run from Israeli authorities during two stints, before finally being arrested by the Hawks and extradited to Israel, was finally sentenced for three sexual assault offences in a plea bargain deal in an Israeli court on Monday. He will probably only serve five more months of his 18 month sentence - Read why... See the video
by ANT KATZ | Nov 23, 2016

ABOVE: Shuvu Banim video of escorting Rav Berland from the Jerusalem courthouse on Jaffa street to the entrance of the city 


Rabbi Eliezer Berland was handed an 18-month sentence, but the court took into account time he spent behind bars in South Africa and Israel (seven months), which, given the standard Israeli one-third (six months) reduction of sentence he could get for good behaviour, means he will in effect spend some five months in jail - or less should he be granted further dispensation for medical or other reasons.

Berland admitted to three counts (two of indecent acts and one of assault) under a plea bargain that cleared him of other molestation charges - much to the chagrin of some of the complainants, according to Israeli media.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland is the founder of the Shuvu Banim yeshiva in Jerusalem. His Shuvu Banim International Breslov offshoot claims hundreds of thousands of followers.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland - preferred pic - smallThe rabbi initially fled Israel in early 2013 for Morocco after his wife and son had been indicted on a massive theft and fraud charge and amid allegations that Berland had molested female followers, one of them a minor.


RIGHT: Rabbi Berland is described by almost everyone who meets him as being charismatic

He was later evicted from Morocco and found refuge in Zimbabwe, at a compound built by an Israeli follower, just outside Bulawayo.

However, after some of the many followers who had gone into exile with him were accused by the Bulawayo Jewish community of breaking a negotiated arrangement not to use their shul, Berland and his followers were once again evicted.

It was then that they arrived in South Africa for the first time just prior to Pesach, on April 11, 2014.

Many of Berland’s followers have decried the allegations against him as a witch-hunt, but police say the rabbi had been recorded in an August police interview, as confessing to the crimes.



Hawks botched three arrest attempts

In South Africa, Berland twice evaded arrest by the Hawks during his first stay - once in a high-speed car chase in Sydenham and the second time while officiating at a wedding. Within days of the second attempt, Berland, his wife Rebbetzen Tehila and a close friend and financier, Yaron Yamin, walked through customs at OR Tambo Airport and got on the overnight flight to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

Customs officials at OR Tambo had not picked up that Berland was on an Interpol list, although the rabbi travelled under his own name. By the time the plane landed in Holland on October 6, 2014, Dutch authorities detained him at the request of Israeli officials.

Berland was charged there, but released on a huge bail, to give Israeli authorities time to prepare their documentation.

At the next hearing of the man - dubbed globally as the “rabbi-on-the-run” - the court in Holland was not satisfied with what they deemed Israel’s lack of evidence to substantiate that country’s request for Berland’s extradition; the case was again postponed.

At the second hearing, Berland’s lawyers said he was unwell and could not attend court as he was hospitalised.


SEE OVER 190 POSTS ON BERLAND ON JR ONLINE


This time, the court found that Berland should, in fact, be extradited. However, when Dutch police went to arrest him at the hospital, they found that the rabbi was on the run again.

Rumours about his whereabouts abounded. One, in the Dutch daily, De Telegraaf, had him on a small Caribbean island, with no extradition agreement with Israel.

By late 2015 it was clear that Berland and a large band of followers and their families had been in South Africa for some time. Unbeknown to authorities, however, was the fact that the rabbi - with an increasing number of followers in tow - was staying at a hotel in a quiet industrial area in Midrand.

Late in January, Berland dodged the third arrest attempt in South Africa when a well-armed tactical team which included Interpol agents and the Hawks, raided the hotel on Shabbat. The rabbi had been there but his security team had whisked him away.

He was finally arrested in Sandton on April 7, this year. His legal team managed to have his extradition delayed until July.

In Jerusalem, Berland finally faced sexual offences charges on July 29, He had been quietly extradited by South African authorities, with the aid of Interpol, on July 18, arriving in Israel the following day.

He has remained in custody in Israel as he was deemed a flight risk He subsequently made an admission of guilt during a taped interview, say police.

Berland, who had continued to maintain his innocence and blamed a "dark conspiracy" that brought false charges against him, appealed to Israel's Chief Rabbis to help him be released from custody two months ago. “I am in poor health and it’s hard for me to stand on my feet, I don’t know if I can survive this horrible suffering,” Berland wrote to the Chief Rabbis.

Yeshiva World News reported Tuesday that Berland had been visited by Migdal HaEmek Chief Rabbi Dovid Yitzchok Grossman Shlita. YWN said that after this visit, Israel’s Deputy Education Minister, Rabbi Meir Porush, had also visited Berland in his prison cell on 1 Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. 

In the end, Berland reached a plea bargain with the State last week and this week was sentenced to 18 months.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Micey 24 Nov
    justice must prevail! Dirty old man. What a chillul HaShem he is!

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