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

Followers of Rabbi Eliezer Berland, who was extradited to Israel on Tuesday, protested outside of Ayalon Prison, where he is being held.

Demanding they be allowed in to see their imprisoned spiritual leader, the protesters confronted police separating them from the entrance to the prison.

According to BeHadrei Haredim, one man pledged his life to Berland, saying that he and his son were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice on the jailed rabbi’s behalf.

“I’m ready to die for the rabbi, and my son is ready to die too,” he told police.

Berland was arrested upon his arrival in Israel on Tuesday, ending a years-long manhunt for the fugitive religious leader, who has been accused of sex crimes against female followers.

Police nabbed Berland in South Africa, where he was held for months before his extradition to Israel.

A controversial figure within the Breslov Hasidic community, Berland has been condemned by leading Breslov rabbis, as well as his own son, Nahman, who called him a “criminal”, and saying he is either “totally wicked or he’s mentally ill”.

But some of his most ardent followers, particularly those associated with the Shuvu Banim yeshiva founded by Berland, maintain his innocence.