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Friday, November 8, 2013

Rabbi Eliezer Berland Has Left Morocco

Rabbi Eliezer Berland, leader of Breslovs’ Shuvu Banim community, has left Morocco after a seven-month stay. As was reported by T.O.T, as more families affiliated with the rav relocated to Morocco to be with their rebbe, authorities became uncomfortable with the situation and the rabbi was instructed to leave the country.

Rabbi Berland, a Haifa-born Breslov Hassid who headed the Shuvu Banim yeshiva in Jerusalem, fled to Morocco, in April after being accused of sex crimes. Israel has no extradition agreement with that country. Berland reportedly settled in Marrakesh and began working to build a community there.

However, a Moroccan newspaper recently published an article profiling him and detailing the circumstances in which he fled Israel. According to reports, Morocco's King Mohammed VI read the article and ordered the rabbi's expulsion.

Associates of the rabbi claimed that the king's decision had nothing to do with Berland's alleged crimes. They said that dozens of the rabbis' followers had already flocked to Morocco in the rabbi's wake, and the king was concerned for their safety.

"This is a Muslim country after all; the hundreds of Hassids who have reached Morocco are in danger," said one of the rabbi's confidants.

Berland's alleged activities came to light about a year ago. At the time, Israel Hayom published details of an incident in which one of the rabbi's disciples allegedly happened upon his teacher at home standing beside a naked woman. The rabbi's supporters expressed anger, including taking violent actions, against the person who had relayed the story to the press.

When police intervened and launched an investigation, Berland fled the country. Following a brief stint in the U.S., he traveled to Morocco, where he was welcomed by the local Jewish community. His followers began gravitating to the rabbi in Morocco, with thousands arriving to celebrate holidays and commemorate various events with him, and some opting to stay in Morocco.

According to a Channel 2 news report, Berland began to build up a community in Marrakesh mirroring the Shuvu Banim yeshiva, and sought to establish a community center and education institutions there. He also wanted to build apartments there for his followers.

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