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Israel

Chassidic kids need stable environment

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MICHELE ENGELBERG

Children in Berland entourage

need stable environment

Michele Engelberg from Johannesburg writes:

On Sunday, Erev Pesach, April 13, a small but effective protest was held in front of Mooz. This was a busy day for Pesach preparations but these Jews felt so strongly about this cause that they gave up of their time.

Jews representing various segments of the Jewish community were protesting the arrival in Johannesburg of Rabbi Eliezer Berland, a Breslov rabbi from Israel who is wanted on several counts of sexual abuse.

Instead of facing the law in Israel, he – and many followers – has sought refuge in several countries including Morocco, Zimbabwe and now South Africa.

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein in a statement warned Jewish South Africans not to shelter Rabbi Berland.

“Berland must return to Israel to face the criminal justice system,” he said. Despite this warning, Berland and his followers are being hosted by Jews in Johannesburg. 

Rabbi Eliezer Berland supporter harassing protesterDuring the protest, an irate man verbally condemned the protester, using offensive language.


RIGHT: this picture depicts the offensive incident Michele refers to where Rebbetzen Hendler who had organised the Mooz protest
PIC: courtesy of Rab Ramon Widmonte
 

There was a reporter there from The Star newspaper who asked if she could speak with Rabbi Berland so as to be able to print both sides of the story. The man said no and then told the reporter: “If you would meet him, you would fall on the floor”, presumably out of awe or as a sign of respect for his greatness compared with the smallness of other people. 

And therein lies the problem: Judaism espouses that people are people. People are NOT deities to be worshipped and bowed to. A man, no matter how great he is, is still a man and NOT above the law. 

Israel, South Africa and the Torah, all have laws and judiciary systems. In fact, the Torah stipulates that one of the seven laws of Noah, essential for the non-Jews to keep, is that they set up courts of law.

This is because courts of law are fundamental to the fair running of any society. How much more so should a big rabbi abide by the law instead of running from country to country like a fugitive?

But Berland is not alone. His “followers” also traipse around the world with him: men, women and children. Presumably these “men and women” are the parents of these children. Is moving from country to country every few months in the best interests of these children?

Don’t children need a stable home environment? Don’t they need to form secure relationships with friends, teachers, etc? How can they fortify these relationships if they are being herded from country to country like cattle? Are they even attending school?

Finally, the irate man accused the protesters of not caring about these families, especially about the Jewish children. They are hungry. He had to buy them milk and pay for their laundry.

The question is: If they have money to frequently fly around the world, then why isn’t there money to give the children milk and food?

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