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R. Berland wants to plant roots in SA

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ANT KATZ

But, the elusive rabbi is said to have quietly returned to South Africa with several hundred followers and supposedly with a custom-built compound which can accommodate many hundreds more. He is reportedly trying to raise funds to establish a talmid torah in Johannesburg, according to a Yeshiva World report on Mynet on Wednesday.

SA Jewish Report had already reported that some 200 of the rabbi’s chassidim had come into the country ahead of the High Holidays and Jewish Report Online had an exclusive interview with some of Rabbi Berland’s most trusted aides “Berland wants followers to avoid conflict” as reported on October 14.

The Yeshiva World report says in a fundraising letter, “the rav writes there are dozens of boys and girls compelled to live outside of Israel and a talmid torah must be established immediately.

“The report quotes a chassid close to the rav explaining: ‘The police thought the rav would stop leading his kehilla in Israel, but they were mistaken. In today’s world this can be done from a distance.’”

The report says that the “rav continues giving shiurim over the Internet and phone” with his followers in Israel.

Rabbi Berland, leader of Breslov Shuvu Banim, has been avoiding arrest for over two years, having travelled to a number of countries including Morocco, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Holland. While in South Africa earlier this year, he escaped two attempts to arrest and extradite him when he slipped through the hands of the country’s Hawks.

He then surfaced in Holland and was arrested on landing there, at the request of Israel. A Dutch court, however, discovered that Israel had no active warrant against Berland and released him (but held his passport) until the Israelis could complete their paperwork.

The court then ordered his extradition to Israel to stand trial for alleged assaults against women. After losing an appeal to the Supreme Court in Holland, it was discovered that Berland had managed to flee that country before he could be taken into custody for extradition.

Berland was presumed to be on a remote Caribbean island with no extradition treaty with Israel: RABBI BERLAND FOUND – OUT OF REACH OF ISRAELI POLICE when he and some 200-odd followers turned up in the Midrand area between Johannesburg and Pretoria before Rosh Hashanah.

The elusive rabbi – and his followers who seem unfazed by the charges against him – has not publicly surfaced. At his first South African sojourn, his followers, “quaint” by SA traditional Jewish standards, elicited mixed reaction in the community, with most fervently hoping the rabbi and his followers would quietly depart – again.

Berland was presumed to be on a remote Caribbean island with no extradition treaty with Israel: RABBI BERLAND FOUND – OUT OF REACH OF ISRAELI POLICE when he and some 200-odd followers turned up in the Midrand area before Rosh Hashanah.



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