Rav Berland’s next stop: Israel
This morning Jewish Report first published the rumours of stories that Rabbi Eliezer Berland had skipped the country. It can’t be, said our police contacts, his passport is flagged.
- A senior follower at the Rabbi’s Israeli Yeshiva, *Yossi, confirmed to Jewish Report at 12:17 that Rav Berland was, in fact, being held in Amsterdam. However, said Yossi, “they seem to just be questioning him for now, for they also have Internet access and see everything written about him, and want to verify the truth, we are hoping they will allow to continue to his final destination,” presumably Uman.
- Haim Lev and Ari Soffer published a story on Israeli daily ARUTZ SHEVA this afternoon and Botho Molosankwe published on IOL – both at 13:30 SA time.
- SAJR Online immediately began working it’s contact lists:
- A senior SAPS official whose name we can’t quote as he is not authorised to speak to the media, confirmed that Rabbi Berland was, in fact, being held in Holland and that the authorities had no idea how he had managed to evade border controls;
- Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramoloko said that the Hawks had been told that Rabbi Berland was in Holland. The Hawks were still trying to establish the veracity of the claims and would get back to us. However, Ramoloko reminded SAJR, the Hawks still have an active arrest warrant open against him;
- A senior Israeli police contact who also can’t be quoted told Jewish Report that the Israeli authorities were alerted early and landed in Amsterdam at about the same time as Berland. “His (the rabbi’s) next stop will be in Israel,” said the contact confidently,
Read it here or on ARUTZ SHEVA:
After Two Years on the Run, Fugitive Rabbi Nabbed in Holland
Shuvu Bonim sect leader and suspected sex offender Rabbi Eliezer Berland caught at Amsterdam airport; faces extradition to Israel.
After two years on the run from Israeli authorities suspected sex offender Rabbi Eliezer Berland has reportedly been arrested in Amsterdam’s international airport, and will soon be extradited back to Israel.
Berland, who founded and leads the Shuvu Bonim chassidic sect, was accused of sexually molesting several female followers in Israel but fled the country to escape investigation.
Some will be asking how the runaway rabbi managed to escape facing justice until now, but his network of loyal followers proved key both in hiding him and helping him give police the slip on numerous occasions.
Just last week Berland dodged police in Johannesburg, South Africa, by the skin of his teeth as he travelled to officiate at the wedding of one of his followers.
Police attempted to ambush the car he was travelling in, but the fugitive rabbi managed a dramatic escape.
“Our team tried to nab him. We had a mini-roadblock and as soon as he saw that, he jumped out of the car he was travelling in and into a BMW that was nearby,” police spokesman Paul Ramoloko told the oilnews website. “The BMW climbed on the pavements and drove on them, hitting people’s trees and pot plants as they fled. We could not shoot at him because it is not how we wanted to operate this. We know that we will get him.”
Berland had escaped police under similar circumstances just a month earlier.
Police attempted to nab him as he officiated at a previous wedding, but bumbled that arrest rather embarrassingly.
“This man surround himself with a group of about 12 people or more. They were all wearing black coats and looked the same. The way things were, we would have arrested the wrong person. We asked people we found there where he was and they said he was not there. It is not easy to arrest him but our guys don’t sleep – they are constantly looking for him,” Ramoloko said.
In the end, however, it was Dutch police who caught Berland, who clearly realised it was only a matter of time before South African authorities honed in on him and was seeking a new base.
It was the final stop in a long game of cat-and-mouse across several continents for Berland.
After he was accused of committing indecent acts against several young female followers and learning that he was wanted for questioning Berland fled Israel before he could be arrested, absconding first to the US, and then moving on to Italy and Switzerland.
He eventually settled for a time in Marrakech, Morocco, before being forced out by the government. He then moved once again to Zimbabwe, from where he was allegedly deported earlier this year.
Berland and several of his hard-core followers then chose to settle in South Africa, much to the dismay of the local community, who were not particularly pleased to find a suspected sex-offender seeking refuge among them.
Read it here or on IOL:
‘Sex pest’ rabbi smuggled out of SA
Rabbi Eliezer Berland, who evaded police at a road block, has allegedly been smuggled out of the country.
Johannesburg – A fugitive Israeli rabbi wanted for sexual crimes in his country has allegedly fled South Africa days after evading the police once again in a roadblock.
The elderly Eliezer Berland of the Breslov Chasidic movement was allegedly smuggled out of the country on Wednesday night. It is believed that his next destination is Ukraine.
A former follower of Berland, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Star newspaper on Thursday morning: “His supporters only say he escaped from South Africa to a destination that is kept secret and that he wanted to visit soon the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Ukraine.”
Rabbi Nachman was the founder of the Breslov Chasidic movement.
It is believed Berland’s decision to fle, came after the police cornered him on Monday night. He escaped in a getaway car, ramping pavements and knocking over pot plants.
This was not the first time Berland had evaded the police. A few months ago, he was officiating at a wedding when the Hawks pounced.
“This man surrounded himself with a group of about 12 people or more. They were all wearing black coats and looked the same. The way things were, we would have arrested the wrong person. We asked people there where he was and they said he was not there. It is not easy to arrest him, but our guys don’t sleep – they are constantly looking for him,” said the Hawk’s Paul Ramaloko.
On Wednesday the SA Jewish Board of Deputies said they were not aware of Berland’s near arrest.
National director of the board, Wendy Kahn, said: “From what we understand, he is a fugitive from Israeli law, where he is accused of sexual crimes. As law-abiding citizens of South Africa, we encourage him to turn himself over to the South African law enforcement authorities so that he can be returned to Israel to stand justice.”
On Thursday morning, Kahn reiterated that they were not aware of the rumours that he had been smuggled out of the country.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Berland was accused of sexual abuse by a number of his female followers, including a 15-year-old girl.
Berland arrived in South Africa in April with about 200 followers, sparking a protest by the Sandringham Jewish community.
During the Passover holiday this year, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein urged South African rabbis to take in some of Berland’s destitute followers, who were without food or shelter.
Goldstein, however, urged Berland to return to Israel immediately.
*Yossi – members of the Shuvu Bonim Breslov sect of Rav Berland only go by their first names