At 2 AM last Lag B’Omer, when it became the Breslow Chassidim’s turn to light the traditional holiday bonfire on Mt. Meron, despite warnings from the event’s organizers, cult leader Eliezer Berland, recently released from prison where he served time for sex offenses, was honored with lighting the bonfire.
Eliezer Berland, 86, fled Israel in the past following allegations of sexual misconduct and traveled from one country to another to evade extradition to Israel. He was eventually returned to Israel, where he confessed to a rape charge and was sentenced to 18 months for sexual attacks on two women, and ordering an assault on the husband of one of the women he had raped. In June 2021, Berland received another 18 months for fraud. Currently, he is suspected of involvement in two murders.
Now, you tell me, is this the kind of religious leader we should emulate and endow with the honor of igniting Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s bonfire? I don’t think so.
And so, at last Sunday’s cabinet meeting (a little late, but better late than never), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Cabinet Secretary Yossi Fuchs to issue a ban on future cases in which sex offenders participate in events funded by the state.
It began after Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu (Otzma Yehudit) brought up at the same cabinet the fact that Berland had defied the Meron organizers’ deal with the Breslow community. The minister was joined by other ministers and as a result, the Prime Minister ordered Fuchs to formulate a policy that bans Berland and similar criminals from participating in the Mount Meron ceremony.
The issue is slated for discussion at the next cabinet meeting.
Minister Amichai Eliyahu said: “This is a disgrace like no other, and a desecration of God. Whoever commits a sexual offense, regardless of his social status, must be banned from any public position.”
It would have been so much simpler to just tell the police next time to watch out for this talis-wrapped elderly Jew with a penchant for, you know.