The third time was not a charm for South African police, who reportedly tried – and failed – to arrest Breslov hasidic Rabbi Eliezer Berland on Shabbat. But what really upset Berland and his followers is that the police had the help of Hebrew-speaking Jews who violated Shabbat in a bid to arrest him.
Above: Rabbi Eliezer Berland
South African Cops Try But Fail To Arrest “Sex-Pest” Hasidic Rabbi
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The third time was not a charm for South African police, who reportedly tried – and failed – to arrest Shuvu Banim Breslov hasidic sect leader Rabbi Eliezer Berland on Shabbat, Behadrei Haredim reported. Berland was able to escape with the help of his followers, many of whom are Israeli ex-cons.
Berland is wanted in Israel on sex assault charges leveled by a several female followers (one of whom was minor below the age of consent when the alleged assault took place). He has allegedly been living in a village near Johannesburg since jumping bail in the Netherlands last year. Before that, he fled, was expelled from, or escaped from countries as diverse as Morocco, Zimbabwe, and the Netherlands.
Berland jumped bail in the Netherlands after exhausting all legal means to stave off deportation to Israel and disappeared. He eventually allegedly reappeared in South Africa – a country that had twice-previously tried to arrest him.
But this time it was supposed to be different. Rumors of bribes given to South African politicians and police swirled. Berland’s people spoke openly of building a new community there and even launched a fundraising campaign for a new yeshiva.
But then Saturday, not long before the end of Shabbat, South African police raided the village where Berland is supposedly living. With police were allegedly Hebrew-speaking Jews there to help get information from Berland’s followers. Police and their Jewish helpers reportedly went went house-to-house, police with their guns drawn, looking for Berland. But Berland’s followers somehow managed to hide Berland and then smuggle him out of the village to safety.
In Berland’s previous stay in South Africa, he twice escaped police attempts to arrest him, one in a way similar to what appears to have taken place yesterday and another time by evading police in high speed car chase.
Today, Breslov hasidim and their supporters in the haredi community bitterly complained about the Hebrew-speaking Jews’ Shabbat desecration in the latest failed bid to arrest Berland and accused South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein of being behind the incident.
Goldstein had allegedly recently complained to Berland’s assistants about weddings and other religious ceremonies performed by Berland without the necessary legal right to do so and without clearing it with South Africa’s Chief Rabbinate, and Berland’s followers attributed Goldstein’s alleged actions to jealousy.
"Even the locals come to pray with Rabbi Berland and not with Rabbi Goldstein," some of Berland’s followers told Behadrei Haredim.
But Goldstein initially helped Berland and followers when they came to South Africa the first time two years ago. But almost immediately Goldstein soured on Berland and his hasidim after the hasidim trashed parks, vacation resorts, motels, and became a national spectacle while Berland showed a near-complete disregard for that and for South African law.