SA Jewish News

Pesachdik goods galore in Bulawayo

The Breslov Chasidic leader Rabbi Eliezer Berland and a band of followers has been thrown out of numerous countries, most recently Zimbabwe and before that Morocco. In Bulawayo, many of his supporters from around the world had gathered to meet for Pesach. More pictures and text of Rabbi Goldstein's two letters in story...
by ANT KATZ | Apr 14, 2014

Berland and his 200-odd followers are being housed by Jewish community members in a number of Shuls in the city, despite a call from the Chief Rabbi, in consultation with the Beth Din, not to do so.

According to an article in THE STAR today, Ruben Genish, a member of the Jewish community helping to look after Berland’s supporters, said it was shocking how members of the community turned against themselves, because it opened them up to criticism from non-Jews.

“Why don’t we (talk about it) amongst ourselves. Why don’t we do it in our Shuls?” he asked The Star.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland - MOOZ courtesy Rab - Signs


RIGHT: MOOZ PROTEST SUNDAY
photo: courtesy of Rab Ramon Widmonte



Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein had e-mailed SA Rabbis and encouraged them not to shelter or support Berland or his followers, saying any congregants likely to be “drawn into supporting or sheltering Berland and his followers” should be spoken with.

SAJBD working on getting

Berland deported

At this stage nobody is certain how Berland and his many followers were able to enter SA. “Berland must return to Israel to face the criminal justice system,” Goldstein said. A protest organised by Rebbetzen Wendy Hendler was held at Mooz yesterday. Hendler told THE STAR that Berland had a history of sexual abuse and criminal activity. “Our community is saying we don’t harbour and shelter anyone from the law,” she said.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland in ShulLEFT: FILE PIC OF
BERLAND IN ISRAEL



Hendler said Berland did have support from influential members of the Jewish community. But she said the South African Jewish Board of Deputies was in consultation with a number of government departments to have Berland deported.

“Abuse is happening in all communities and it’s about time people speak out and acknowledge this is happening. No community is different,” said one of the Mooz protestors, Wendy Rubbenstein.

Two letters from Chief Rabbi

SAJR Online is reliably informed that the following are the texts of the two letters sent by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein to Rabbonim around SA:

Dear Rabbonim שליט"א

This is to inform you that R. Eliezer Berland and his followers have arrived in Johannesburg. Reports indicate that Berland fled Israel following a police investigation into multiple and serious allegations of sexual assault. Over the last number of months he has been on the run, having been expelled from Morocco, and most recently Zimbabwe, where he had tried to find refuge.

I have discussed this matter with the Beth Din and we wish to notify Rabbonim to be aware of the situation so that our community not be involved with sheltering or supporting Berland and his followers.  Berland must return to Israel to face the criminal justice system.

Please notify any members of your congregation who you feel may be drawn into supporting or sheltering Berland and his followers. Use your discretion in this regard as many of your congregants may not be affected by this situation.

Yours sincerely, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

Rabbi Berland has arrived for Pesach in Johannesburg with around 200 of his Chassidim including men, women and children.  He is fleeing Israel where there are charges against him of sexual offences against women in his community, including rape. There will be a protest against him on Sunday 13 April at 12pm on the Sandringham strip near Mooz in order to get him deported from South Africa.

We aim to send a strong message that our community will not harbour an alleged sexual offender.

SAJR Online has been trying to reach the Department of International Relations and Co-operation to find out how the Rabbi and his followers got into the country and whether there has been any move to expel them, or from Israel for his extradition.


1 Comment

  1. 1 Some One 19 Apr
    It appears that R. Berland and his Chasidim were deported to South Africa from Zim.

    I have no issue with shelter not being given to R. Berland. It is appropriate that he return to Israel to answer the questions the police wish to ask.

    However, is it fair to shun his Chasidim? Many of them appear to be very young and naive. There are many young women, with young children. Is it really fair to deny women with very young children food or shelter because of something their leader has done?

    Don't we judge individuals on their own merits? Aren't we also supposed to give people the benefit of the doubt?

    It's easy to say they should all be deported. But I'm haunted by the image of a young mother struggling with two very young children in the rain and the cold on Erev Yomtov being told "Sorry, we can't help you because we disapprove of your rebbe."

    I apologise for not putting my name to this comment. However, I have no wish to subject myself or my family to the vitriol that will come our way for expressing this dissenting view.

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