Rabbi Accused of Sex Crimes Arrested in Zimbabwe

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Rabbi Eliezer Berland. Suspected of committing sexual offenses, he’s currently in South Africa.Credit: Hadar Cohen

Fugitive Israeli Rabbi Eliezar Berland, head of the Shuvu Banim Hassidic sect, was arrested in Zimbabwe on Monday, according to reports in the local media.

The rabbi was later released but faces deportation from the African country due to an expired visa, according to the reports.

Berland fled Israel some 18 months ago after being accused of committing indecent acts against several female followers, some of whom were minors at the time of the alleged abuse. He spent time in the United States, Italy, Switzerland and Morocco before arriving in Zimbabwe two months ago.

Shortly after he fled Israel, his son, grandson and several other followers were arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering involving the sect's finances.

It was reported earlier this week that one of his followers has been transporting kosher-for-Passover food to Zimbabwe in advance of the hundreds of Shavu Banim hassidim expected to travel to meet the Rabbi over the holiday.

To this end, a wealthy Jew from Johannesburg has donated 600 pounds of matzah and 60 cases of wine for the expected visitors.

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