Friday, September 29, 2017

The rabbi would sometimes take advantage of the meetings and of his position in the community to engage in sexual acts with women, including minors, according to the charges against him....

Convicted sex offender rabbi sued for NIS 4 million in civil case


Three women claim Eliezer Berland's wife, leaders of Shuvu Bonim group covered up rabbi's crimes

Rabbi Eliezer Berland (c) at the Jerusalem District Court in Jerusalem on August 1, 2016.(Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
 Eliezer Berland  at the Jerusalem District Court in Jerusalem

Three women filed a civil suit Wednesday against a convicted sex offender rabbi and fifteen others who they claim enabled him.

The women are suing Eliezer Berland, 80, for NIS 4 million ($1.1 million) and also demanding that he be barred from leaving the country until the case is concluded, Channel 2 reported.

The suit was filed in Jerusalem District Court by the two women, who Berland admitted to and was found guilty of assaulting, along with another woman who was not involved in the criminal case against the rabbi.

 Eliezer Berland at the Jerusalem District Court

Berland, who is the leader of the Shuvu Bonim Bratslav Hasidic group, was sentenced to 18 months in jail in November 2016 after being convicted on two counts of indecent acts and one case of assault.
He was released earlier this year after serving five months behind bars, in part due to suffering from cancer. He was given permission to move to a hotel next to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center on Mount Scopus, where he was placed under house arrest. His sentence is due to end next week.

“There are not enough words to denounce the defendant,” the petition read. “There is no real way to atone for what he did, and no amount of money in the world can will fully and completely compensate for the indescribable suffering that he caused the plaintiffs (and others).”

The suit was filed against the rabbi and his wife as well as rabbis and others associated with Shuvu Bonim, the ultra-Orthodox news site Behadrei Haredim reported.

According to the court document, seen by the news site, these people knew of the crimes but covered for him. “Not only did they give the defendant a framework and platform to advance himself, but they explicitly justified and vindicated his actions,” the petition said. “They even went so far as to praise his actions as ‘lofty’ and ‘elevated’ and as ‘rectifying supernal worlds.'”

Channel 1 tweeted what it said was a recording of Berland’s wife in which she describes her husband as a “sadist” and said that others warned her to keep away from him.

Last week the rabbi was authorized to travel to Uman for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Each year tens of thousands of Jews converge on the Ukrainian city, which is the final resting place of the Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav, an 18th-century luminary who founded the Bratslav Hasidic sect.

While there it was reported that his followers were involved in clashes with other Bratslav Hasidim.

Hasidic pilgrims praying near the burial site of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in Uman, Ukraine

Long considered a cult-like leader to thousands of his followers from the breakaway sect Shuvu Bonim, Berland fled Israel in 2013 amid allegations that he molested two female followers, one of them a minor.

According to the criminal indictment, Berland would often receive people in his homes in Jerusalem and in Beitar Illit and held private meetings intended for spiritual guidance, counseling or benedictions. The rabbi would sometimes take advantage of the meetings and of his position in the community to engage in sexual acts with women, including minors, according to the charges against him.

The trial ended with a plea deal in which the rabbi admitted to the charges and was sentenced to jail and to pay NIS 75,000 in compensation. Berland reportedly told the judge that according to biblical law “such acts are punishable by burning and stoning. Today times have changed and there is a lot of leniency, but it does not detract from the severity of my actions.”

He was on the run from authorities until 2016, eluding several Israeli attempts to extradite him. He moved between Zimbabwe, Switzerland, the Netherlands and South Africa, accompanied by a group of devout followers numbering around 40 families.

Following a plea bargain the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court convicted and sentenced him in November 2016, though some seven months that he spent in jails in South Africa and the US were counted as time served.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rabbi Abraham Pam — who lived in the shadow of the great Yisroel Belsky — was an old Russianized shorty who dabbled in Communist kids from the former USSR. That was the position of Yitzchak Feuereisen of Baltimore Ner Israel. To my surprise, this Rosh Hashana he published a flattering booklet about Rabbi Pam — titled "כהניך ילבשו צדק / Let Your Priests be Clothed with Righteousness — A תורה Perspective on the Life and Times of Rav אברהם יעקב הכהן Pam."

Feuereisen did not even bother reading Artscroll biographies "Rav Pam" or "Beloved by All" by Shimon Finkelman. In his usual arrogant style, he merely plagiarized his booklet off the Wikipedia article and the links therein giving nobody their due credits. "Not everyone can handle being an object of notice," wrote Feuereisen on p. 11. Obviously, he regards himself as a dominating human being above any rebuke who, of course, can handle being an object of notice. Although this Ner Israel booklet can be found in every Baltimore synagogue, it lacks any written rabbinic approbation — as, in fact, all Feuereisen's pamphlets. Yet Feuereisen claims that success does not need human approval (p. 11) because the fact that a person is "so מצליח (successful) in his עבודה (service), shows he had the full הסכמה (approbation) of בורא עולם (Creator)." For this reason, Feuereisen is so divinely confident about what Rabbi Pam "knew" (p. 9) or "felt" (p. 10) and even insanely assumed that Rabbi Pam sat "in the middle of the בית מדרש (yeshiva)" to become "בטל ברוב (neutralized in the larger quantity)!"

Now I will give you a broader idea of Feuereisen's own mad addenda to the plagiarized material: p. 8 — "In 1943, Rav Pam married שרה (Sarah) Balmuth. They were married for fifty eight years. The number fifty eight is the מספר (number) of נח (rest) which means pleasant" (Feuereisen additionally confused חן with נח); p. 14 — "This כח (power) of מורה נבוכים (a guide to the perplexed) and chartering out a map alludes to Rav Pam’s name. If one rearranges the letters in the name PAM, it forms the word MAP"; p. 15 — "The word “פאר” (glory) has a מספר (number) of 281. If one rearranges the number to 182 it becomes the מספר of the name יעקב (Jacob). The beauty of this message is the beauty of Rav Pam."

Nonetheless, the true theme of the booklet is given on p. 6: "We, too, must constantly ask the question before doing or saying anything or taking action, “הייטב בעיני ה'‏, would הקב"ה approve?”" Really, would He approve plagiarism, mockery and arrogance of Feuereisen's booklets? So if you wonder why Orthodox Jews rape, fornicate, defraud, swindle, or just lie — while zealously praying three times a day to some unseeable "god" (Google Feuereisen) — here is the answer: As long as their crooked society approves such regular practice in hypocrisy (condemned even in Isaiah 32:6) as Feuereisen's recurrent pamphlets, its members are being trained that quackery and false piety are fully compatible with Judaism.