Yakov Litzman Visit Rabbi Convicted of Sex Crimes

Two senior members of government, Health Minister Yakov Litzman and Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush, visited Rabbi Eliezer Berland on Tuesday, following the spiritual leader’s release from prison at the start of the month for sexual molestation and assault.

Berland, head of the Hasidic community “Shuvu Banim,” had been sentenced to a year.

The popular rabbi had routinely held personal meetings with followers at his home and elsewhere, for spiritual guidance, to confer blessings, and so forth.

He was accused of abusing his position and was ultimately convicted on two charges of sexually assaulting women and minors, in November 2015, after fleeing Israel and spending two years abroad as a fugitive.

Ultimately Berland was arrested in South Africa, extradited to Israel and sentenced to 18 months in prison. The parole board subsequently shortened his sentence.

Since his release, Berland has been staying at the hotel affiliated with Hadassah hospital in Ein Karem, which is where Litzman and Porush visited him.

“The minister visited Rabbi Berland after the rabbi served his sentence and paid his debt to society,” Litzman’s office stated. “Criminals also have rights and the two discussed issues of Torah.”

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    Health Minister Yaakov Litzman paid a visit Tuesday to Rabbi Eliezer Berland, a leader of the Breslov Hasidic community who was sentenced to 18 months in prison at the end of 2016 for a string of sexual offences.

    Berland is currently staying in a convalescent home in Hadassah Har Hatzofim Medical Center in Jerusalem where he is completing the remainder of his sentence under house arrest while receiving medical treatment.

    In addition, Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) also visited the convicted sexual offender.

    Berland was released 2 weeks ago from prison while serving his sentence amid health problems. In total, he served 5 months in jail.

    Litzman’s entourage explained the meeting as being part and parcel of his general visits to the sick. They also noted that Berland had made a number of requests to receive a visit from Litzman due to his poor health.

    Coming under criticism, Litzman once again sought to justify his controversial visit on Wednesday morning, claiming that he was meeting Berland just like he would any other sick person.

    The visit marks a change of position for Litzman, who thus far has refused to visit Berland despite the pressure that was exerted on him.

    “Even criminals have rights,” said Litzman’s cohorts. Moreover, officials in the health minister’s office said that Berland had paid his debt and had completed his prison sentence.

    “As long as he was under arrest it was different. This visit does not legitimize his crimes, if they were committed,” said one of Litzman’s spokespeople, appearing to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the verdict against him.

    Last July, the 79-year-old Berland, who had headed the Shuvu Banim Yeshiva in Jerusalem, was indicted on several counts of sexual misconduct and assault. He was sentenced last November to 18 month in prison after accepting a plea bargain and expressing regret for his actions.

    In April this year, The Israel Prisons Service Parole Board accepted Berland’s petition for an early release from prison so that he could receive medical treatment. He is set to spend the remainder of his sentence under house arrest.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply