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Rabbi Litzman with Rabbi Berland
Litzman visits sexual offender Rabbi Berland
Two weeks after being released from prison, head of the Shuvu Banim Yeshiva and convicted sexual offender Rabbi Berland receives a visit from health Minister Litzman: ‘This visit does not legitimize his crimes, if they were committed.’
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman paid a visit Tuesday to Rabbi Eliezer Berland, a leader of the Breslov Hasidic community who was sentenced to 18 months in prison at the end of 2016 for a string of sexual offences.

 

 

Berland is currently staying in a convalescent home in Hadassah Har Hatzofim Medical Center in Jerusalem where he is completing the remainder of his sentence under house arrest while receiving medical treatment.

 

Yaakov Litzman visits Rabbi Berland
Yaakov Litzman visits Rabbi Berland

 

In addition, Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) also visited the convicted sexual offender.

 

Berland was released 2 weeks ago from prison while serving his sentence amid health problems. In total, he served 5 months in jail.

 

Litzman’s entourage explained the meeting as being part and parcel of his general visits to the sick. They also noted that Berland had made a number of requests to receive a visit from Litzman due to his poor health.

 

Coming under criticism, Litzman once again sought to justify his controversial visit on Wednesday morning, claiming that he was meeting Berland just like he would any other sick person.

 

Meir Porush visits Berland
Meir Porush visits Berland

 

The visit marks a change of position for Litzman, who thus far has refused to visit Berland despite the pressure that was exerted on him.

 

“Even criminals have rights,” said Litzman’s cohorts. Moreover, officials in the health minister’s office said that Berland had paid his debt and had completed his prison sentence.

 

Rabbi Litzman (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
Rabbi Litzman (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)

 

“As long as he was under arrest it was different. This visit does not legitimize his crimes, if they were committed,” said one of Litzman’s spokespeople, appearing to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the verdict against him.

 

Rabbi Berland (Photo: Amit Shabi)
Rabbi Berland (Photo: Amit Shabi)

 

Last July, the 79-year-old Berland, who had headed the Shuvu Banim Yeshiva in Jerusalem, was indicted on several counts of sexual misconduct and assault. He was sentenced last November to 18 month in prison after accepting a plea bargain and expressing regret for his actions.

 

In April this year, The Israel Prisons Service Parole Board accepted Berland's petition for an early release from prison so that he could receive medical treatment. He is set to spend the remainder of his sentence under house arrest.

 

(Translated and edited by Alexander J. Apfel)

 

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