Berland takes ill as followers pour in

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Hundreds of Shuvu Banim followers of Rabbi Berland have arrived and thousands are expected in Johannesburg to spend the High Holidays with, or near, their leader – who is still being sought by the Hawks on an arrest warrant from Israel. Rabbi Berland, 77, took ill last week and required medical treatment and blood pressure-related medication after Shabbos. Last week he implored his followers in a televised shiur to go to Uman in Ukraine for the annual “Rosh Hashanah kibbutz” pilgrimage. It seems many followers have ignored his calls and are coming to South Africa.
by ANT KATZ | Sep 09, 2014

Anyone living in the Johannesburg shtetl area would be aware of the additional influx of Breslov followers who are coming out to be with, or near, their leader Rabbi Eliezer Berland for the High Holidays. In the meantime, Israeli media reports, confirmed by Rabbi Berland’s Yeshiva in Israel, are that he took ill over Shabbos.

Moshe Weisberg, reporting on the BEHADREY HAREDIM website today (Monday), wrote that the “Shuvu Banim community leader, who is in Johannesburg, felt unwell on Thursday, and had to receive medical treatment and medication.

“According to reports,” wrote Weisberg, “Hagaon Rabbi Eliezer Berland, 77” again fell ill over Shabbos and needed treatment. “When his blood pressure rose on Saturday night, a physician was brought to his apartment to treat the Rav who also needed medication. His name for prayer: Rabbi Eliezer Shlomo Ben Etia for refuah sheleima.”

Jewish Report confirmed the veracity of this report with a senior follower of Rabbi Berland’s in Jerusalem who is in daily contact with him.


Breslov - Reuters FULL

The annual "Rosh Hashanah kibbutz" in Uman, Ukraine in 2008, when approximately 25 000 people from all over the world participated in this pilgrimage

Weisberg added that Rabbi Berland gave a shiur by satellite broadcast to all his followers throughout the world last week Tuesday, calling on them to travel to Uman for Rosh Hashanah.

But that does not seem to have stemmed the tide of followers who have been coming into South Africa. There are a reported 500 followers expected to arrive next week and more the following week.

Rabbi Berland is still being sought by the Hawks to execute an arrest warrant issued by Israel.

Read the previous story of how Hawks botched arrest:
Plus links to all previous stories, writings & related events.


  1. 5 Denis Solomons 09 Sep
    It is still difficult to understand how someone who is in so much trouble in Israel can have such a huge following .
    It just doesn't add up and is difficult to comprehend .
    I mean Israel calls for Berland's arrest and return but 500 followers are expected to arrive in the next 2 weeks .
    He also gave a satellite broadcast to all his followers all over the world ! ?
    Strange days indeed ( The Doors ! )
  2. 4 Samuel Shalom 09 Sep
    "There are a reported 500 followers expected to arrive next week and more the following week" versus "Rabbi Berland is still being sought by the Hawks to execute an arrest warrant issued by Israel"!

    What a contrast and paradox, lionized by some hunted by others! Who is "right" and who is "wrong"? This is surely a quandary of Shakespearean dimensions! The big question is what is the "real" reaction of South African Jewry to all of this? Do they wish to see Berland arrested, put in handcuffs and hauled off ignominiously to be re-arrested by the Israeli police and finally face whoever his accusers are in Israel? Or will South African Jews finally begrudgingly give Berland some benefit of the doubt, because even prisoners in jail deserve to be treated with mercy, in this case also in the spirit of "innocent until PROVEN guilty" and certainly will South African Jews welcome the hundreds of Berland Chasidim who will come to enjoy Yom Tov with their rabbi?

    While Berland may be no angel, the behavior and attitudes of many who should know better towards this rabbinic fugitive is very much less than "angelic"!

    If anything, the challenge of Berland's presence has created a wave of fear that this skinny, old, emaciated, sickly, yet very learned and charismatic rabbi is somehow a "plague" worse than an "ebola" outbreak! Which is all rather odd considering that South Africa tolerates its own miscreants among its rabbis with a far more liberal and benevolent outlook, as is well known by now.

    Their are controversial Chasidic rabbi from Chabad in South Africa that are well-known non-angels and by any other measure of simple justice they should be booted out of South Africa for immoral behavior that many know about. But people are afraid to say anything! Why? Are they more "holy" than Berland? Surely not! But that is part of the paradoxes of Jewish life it seems, some have the bad mazel to be the "hunted" while others have the good mazel to be the "protected". There is no real rational logic or true equal justice to this, it's just the way the cookie crumbles. Or is it?

    With hundreds or more Breslovers streaming into Johannesburg will Johannesburg's Jews welcome them and treat them like long lost brothers and sisters? The shopkeepers will welcome more business. Last year the shops selling Yom Tov supplies and Kosher foods sold out and made tidy profits.  But will the ordinary Jewish man and woman on the street from Johannesburg act as all Jews should and must with the right degree of hachnasat orchim, welcoming strangers and making them feel truly at home? Or will there be the snarls and snooty attitudes denigrating and degrading the waves of the very Jewish Breslover Chasidim visitors?

    What if suddenly for unexpected reasons South African Jews were told they were now persona non grata and had to suddenly pack up and go to Israel and then what if in Israel they were cold-shouldered by their brethren when they would expect a warm welcome? Think about it, as they say, what goes around comes around and one day someone may be calling South African Jews "criminals" without a chance to have their day in court and win justice of some sort, and when they would naturally when in exile expect to be treated "nicely" by their fellow-Jews only to find they are being treated like pariahs and weirdos as if "diseased".

    Time to put the hatchets aside and work in the spirit of the upcoming Chagim!

    Wishing everyone a Shanah Tova and a Ketiva VeChatima Tova and Shalom Al Yisrael!!
  3. 3 Bev 10 Sep
    I have to admit, controversial or not, it is so nice to have a bit of Jerusalem in our midst -with the chassidim running around in their Shabos finery erev Shabos and seeing the beautiful kids with their flowing peyos! Just MAYBE we Jews in Jhb are not used to being different looking from our fellow non-Jews and it a bit of a 'shemzach' for us?!!?
  4. 2 frankel 10 Sep
    Seriously, if he would go back to Israel for his trial then answers could be discovered, but he won't, so he is admitting guilt. 

    I won't treat people who condone sexual abuse with respect. I won't respect people who treat their wives like dogs. I won't welcome people who so easily abandon their kids and force them to beg on the streets. I wont respect a sect who feel it is okay to defacate in the maharsha mikvah. I won't accept that it's okay for a 14 year old girl to be attending the mikvah.

    What is wrong with all you people who are supporting them? 
  5. 1 Choni 11 Sep
    Well said Bev. Maybe our young Jewish boys and girls will have an inner wish to live in their own Land of Israel.
    Maybe this is the mission of the whole Berland saga.
    Maybe we should teach our young ones that they are not really Jewish S.Africans, but are really Israelis in exile.
    After all, nowhere in the Chumash does it mention the term Jew or Jewish. We are all Bnei Yisrael, or Am Yisrael.


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