Rabbi convicted of sex offenses blocked from boarding plane to Ukraine

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September 19, 2017 18:56

Berland was originally going to be allowed to travel for Rosh Hashana.

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Rabbi Eliezer Berland

Rabbi Eliezer Berland at the indictment Friday, July 29.. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Despite being released by the prison service release committee from house arrest to travel to the Ukrainian city of Uman for Rosh Hashana, convicted sex offender Rabbi Eliezer Berland, 80, was prevented from boarding his flight on Tuesday at Ben Gurion airport.

A former pupil of Berland and a complainant against him filed an appeal to the Central District Court against the decision allowing him to travel which was upheld, and a court order banning him from leaving the country issued against the rabbi.

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Berland, who had been under house arrest serving an 18-month jail sentence for his crimes, is a leading rabbi among the Breslov Hassidic community, large numbers of whom travel to Uman for Rosh Hashana to pray at the grave of the founder of the sect Rabbi Nahman of Breslov.

The judge presiding over the travel request acknowledged concerns of the police that Berland is a flight risk given that he fled the country to evade arrest in 2013 as well as several subsequent countries to avoid extradition, before finally being returned to Israel in 2016.

Berland was instructed to deposit NIS 180,000 in cash as a guarantee for his return, and sign another guarantee of NIS 360,000, while two third parties signed guarantees for NIS 200,000 in order for the rabbi to be allowed to fly to Uman.

The judge said he was granting the request because Berland’s house arrest is due to end in October and given his advanced age and poor health.

The rabbi was convicted in a November 2016 plea bargain of two counts of indecent assault for sexual attacks on two women, as well as his instructions to assault the husband of one of the women he sexually assaulted.

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