Top Israeli Officials Visit Rabbi Convicted of Sex Crimes: 'He Paid His Debt to Society'

Health minister and deputy education minister visit former fugitive Rabbi Berland, who was convicted on two charges of sexually assaulting women and minors

Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and Rabbi Eliezer Berland in Jerusalem, April 18, 2017
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and Rabbi Eliezer Berland in Jerusalem, April 18, 2017Credit: No credit
Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger

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.

Supporters of the convicted sexual abuser Rabbi Eliezer Berland outside the Israeli court where he was sentenced to 18 months in prison, after fleeing to South AfricaCredit: Moti Milrod

"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."

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Crowds at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, in April.

U.S. Official: West Bank Entry for Palestinian Americans Unrelated to Israeli Visa Waivers

Haaretz spoke with several people who said they had fled Ukraine, arrived in Israel,  and were asked to undergo DNA tests in order to establish paternity.

'My Jewish Grandmother Has a Number on Her Arm, Why Does Israel Greet Me This Way?'

FILE PHOTO: A Star of David hangs from a fence outside the dormant landmark Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood in 2021.

American Judaism Is in Decline. That's Great News for American Jews

People taking part in the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate the Holocaust, between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, four years ago.

It’s Not Just the Holocaust. Israel Is Failing to Teach the History of the Jews

 A Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.

Israel and Poland Fight Over History, Truth - and Israeli Students

A collage of the Bentwich family throughout the generations.

Unique Burial Plot in Jerusalem Tells Story of Extraordinary Jewish Dynasty