Rabbi Berland Admits Indecent Acts, Assault in Plea Deal

Once fugitive rabbi spent three years abroad before being arrested in South Africa and extradited to Israel.

Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer
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Eliezer Berland in court in Jerusalem.
Eliezer Berland in court in Jerusalem.Credit: David Bachar
Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer

Rabbi Eliezer Berland was convicted Thursday on two counts of indecent acts and assault after confessing and signing a plea bargain.

Berland, the leader of the Shuvu Banim Hasidic community, spent some three years on the run in multiple countries before being arrested in South Africa and extradited to Israel in July 2016.

Prior to fleeing Israel in 2013, Berland allegedly carried out sexual acts without their consent or while abusing his position of trust against women and minors.

An original indictment filed against Berland after his extradition accused him of exploiting his standing within his community and meetings he used to host with its members. Thursday's conviction was based a new indictment drafted after his confession.

As part of the plea deal, the new indictment dropped multiple counts of molestation. Sentencing hearings are due to begin in five days.

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