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Wanted Rabbi to be Expelled from Morocco

Moroccan king to expel Shuvu Banim leader, wanted in Israel for questioning in sex abuse case.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 11/7/2013, 3:21 PM

Rabbi Eliezer Berland
Rabbi Eliezer Berland
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The King of Morocco plans to expel an Israeli rabbi who is wanted in Israel for questioning regarding alleged sex crimes, Moroccan media outlets report.

Rabbi Eliezar Berlan, head of the Shuvu Banim Hassidic sect, has been accused of committing indecent acts against several young female followers. Shortly after he fled the country his son and several other followers were arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering involving the sect's finances.

A source in the Shuvu Banim movement told the hareidi news outlet Kikar Hashabat that Berland would be forced to leave Morocco in the near future because local authorities were not pleased at the fact that dozens of his followers had arrived in the country with the intention of staying permanently.

“Dozens of people were coming each week, and hundreds were planning to come on Hannukah… It created an unsustainable situation,” the source claimed.

Shuvu Banim’s leaders and Moroccan authorities decided together that the best solution would be for the rabbi to leave, he added.

However, Moroccan media sources said the King had decided to expel the rabbi after reading a report that explicitly detailed the charges against him. The king ordered the Shuvu Banim sect to leave immediately, they reported.

Rabbi Berland had apparently planned to remain in the country permanently and rebuild his sect’s various institutions there rather than face the police in Israel.

It is not clear where Shuvu Banim plans to go next. The group is looking for a country that does not have an extradition treaty with Israel, but is also open to accepting dozens of Hassidic Jews as citizens.

Shuvu Banim made the papers earlier this year when the movements political “dealers” attempted to cut a deal with the Palestinian Authority to allow Jews to pray more frequently at Kever Yosef (the tomb of the Biblical patriarch Joseph) near Shechem.