dDemonstration in support of Rabbi Eliezer Berland
dDemonstration in support of Rabbi Eliezer Berland Photo: Roni Schutzer/Flash90

Chief Rabbi of Migdal HaEmek Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman boarded a flight Monday morning to Johannesburg in an attempt to release the leader of the Shuvu Banim sect, Rabbi Eliezer Berland, from prison.

This is not the first time that Rabbi Grossman got involved to help Rabbi Berland. Over a year ago, Rabbi Grossman tried to put an end to Rabbi Berland’s run by establishing diplomatic ties in his favor - but was unsuccessful. Now, Rabbi Grossman will try to put an end to Rabbi Berland’s legal saga and meet with the local Jewish community in order to do so.

Over Passover, the head of the Shuvu Banim sect urged the court to let him post bail while his followers vowed he would not attempt to flee. However, the judges denied the request due to his track record of fleeing to numerous countries in recent years as he evaded justice in Israel.

During the holiday, approximately 15,000 people prayed for his release at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron release. A few days prior, hundrads of Berland’s followers demonstrated outside the South African embassy in Ramat Gan calling for their leader’s release, claiming Rabbi Berland is being detained under "appalling conditions" during the Passover holiday.

Berland fled Israel after police opened an investigation into allegations he sexually abused numerous women. He has passed through scores of countries in his bid to avoid facing charges in Israel, though he maintains his innocence.