A scandal that is rocking the Breslov community of Shuvu Banim has taken another
twist, with its spiritual leader Rabbi Eliezer Berland’s return to his Jerusalem
home from his hiding place in the North on Saturday night, after breaking away
from 10 years of captivity, during which he says he was little more than a
marionette controlled by his son and grandson.
Some two weeks ago,
prominent members of the small Jerusalem-based community found a DVD outside
their homes, containing videos and documents proving that the 73- year-old
Berland was in fact being controlled by his son, Rabbi Nachman Berland, and
grandson Nathan Berland, who for years prevented direct access to the older man
and dictated his every move and action.
Shortly afterward, Eliezer staged
his kidnapping to flee to the North, where he took refuge in Moshav Amirim,
initially not disclosing his whereabouts. In a phone call with some 20 of his
closest hassidim, Eliezer recalled the torment he underwent.
locked at home for 10 years,” he said. “They wanted to admit me to an insane
asylum. Over the course of the last year, I’ve been admitted to hospitals every
two weeks, because of the duress I was subject to,” he said.
Berland said he’d return only on the condition that he would regain control over
the community, and the security personnel surrounding him at his son and
grandson’s demand be removed, thus enabling direct contact between him and his
Following Berland’s demands, a new six-man management team was
formed to help lead the community.
But pressure from within the Berland
family led to Nachman being included on the team, following Eliezer’s approval
The other members of the team, however, are fearful that
Nachman’s presence would mean he would dominate his father.
night, the elder Berland returned to his home in the capital’s Morasha
neighborhood, where gung-ho hassidim demonstrated their determination that their
leader be given his freedom, without the shackles of his son’s alleged