Berland charged with defrauding the sick in scheme worth NIS millions

Six senior community official were arrested in December, in an alleged scheme by Berland and his associates in which he offered to bless terminally ill patients in exchange for large sums of money.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland (left), a convicted sex offender. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Rabbi Eliezer Berland (left), a convicted sex offender.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Disgraced rabbi Eliezer Berland, a convicted sex offender and leader of the Shuvu Banim Breslov sect, was arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning in a police raid at his Jerusalem home on suspicion of fraud, financial exploitation, and tax offenses.
Riot police who conducted the raid were met with fierce resistance by devotees of Berland who physically blocked and fought with police officers, injuring two of them, as they made the arrests.
The scam ran by the fraudulent rabbi and his associates for several years involved demanding large sums of money from the relatives of sick individuals in return for blessings from Berland, as well as fake medicine he would distribute.

The police reportedly found antibiotic drops and even Mentos mints which Berland gave to those he took money from, in some cases for incurable or terminal illnesses.
In one instance, the publication of which by Channel 13 in December prompted the investigation, Berland forbade a young woman suffering from cancer from undergoing chemotherapy, telling her he would cure her instead.
Following a covert investigation, police forces raided the homes of six suspects, with Berland’s wife and senior members of his community also detained for questioning.
Berland’s associates even allegedly collected money from the relatives of people who had died, telling them that Berland’s spiritual intervention would guarantee that their loved one would be among the first to be resurrected at the end of days.
The police investigation focused on two main tracks. The first was criminal - gathering evidence and testimony against the suspects who allegedly exploited hundreds of people and their families by demanding tens of thousands of shekels in exchanges for blessings of healing.
The investigators succeeded in deciphering the suspects' hierarchical pattern of action, each with a defined role, all under the tutelage of Berland and with the use of his name.
The second track was economic, in which investigators managed to uncover a variety of alleged money laundering offenses, including tax evasion involving millions of shekels. The money was allegedly laundered using dozens of bank accounts.
In December, six senior officials of the community were arrested in Jerusalem on charges of fraud and money laundering. Their homes were searched and various documents and other evidence was seized by the police.
The arrests were in connection with the same alleged scheme by Berland and his associates in which he offered to bless terminally ill patients in exchange for large sums of money, in a ceremony called “redemption of the soul.”
An investigative report by Channel 13 in October revealed video evidence that Berland and his associates were instructing followers who were severely ill to give thousands and even tens of thousands of shekels in return for a promise that they would be healed by the rabbi.
The mother of Nurit Ben-Moshe, a follower of Berland who was diagnosed with cancer and who paid NIS 20,000 for his blessing, filed a criminal complaint against him in October.
Berland allegedly instructed Nurit not to get chemotherapy and instead to pay for his blessing which he said would cure her.
Nurit died in September however, and her mother accused Berland of responsibility for her daughter’s death.
In 2012 allegations of sexual assault came to light against Berland, but he fled the country and escaped extradition to Israel for three years, fleeing to one country after another before finally being deporter.
In 2016, Berland was convicted of two counts of indecent assault against two women, and one count of assault against the husband of one of the women, whom he had beaten up for reporting the issue to the press.
He was sentenced to 18 months in prison but served only five months, and was released to house arrest for the rest of his term due to ill health.