Rabbi Eliezer Berland
Rabbi Eliezer Berland Photo: Uri Lenz / Flash 90

A Jerusalem court froze the parole board's decision on Monday permitting Rabbi Eliezer Berland to visit Uman for Rosh Hashanah. The decision, coming the day before the Jewish New Year, puts the rabbi's pilgrimage in doubt.

Ahead of the Rosh Hashanah holiday this week, the parole board granted a request by Rabbi Berland, the founder of the Shuvu Banim Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem and once a leading figure in the Breslov community to travel to Ukraine for the annual pilgrimage to the tomb of the founder of the Breslov movement, Rabbi Nachman.

However, the Jerusalem District Court blocked the decision after prosecutors filed an urgent appeal against the decision, arguing that lifting Rabbi Berland's travel ban was unreasonable due to his high stature in the Breslov community. "This decision goes far beyond the scope of reasonableness and doesn't take into account that the rabbi is one of the top Breslov rabbis, and did not weight his effect on those in Uman," the appeal read.

Justice Avraham Tal accepted the appeal and froze Berland's departure. A hearing over his travel permit will take place Tuesday. As Rosh Hashana begins Wednesday night, Tal's decision puts the future of Rabbi Berland's visit in doubt.

The annual pilgrimage to Rabbi Nachman’s tomb in Uman, Ukraine has become a popular custom in recent years, particularly among Breslov Hassidim.

Berland, 80, fled Israel in 2013 after he was accused of sexually molesting two female followers.

Over the next three years, Rabbi Berland evaded extradition, traveling across Europe and Africa with a coterie of followers.

After his capture and extradition in 2016, however, Berland agreed to a plea bargain arrangement with Israeli prosecutors, pleading guilty to two counts of indecent acts and one case of assault.

Last November, Rabbi Berland was sentenced to 18 months in prison but was released to a hospice five months into his sentence, where he could receive regular treatment for serious health problems he has suffered in recent years.

Rabbi Berland's expected visit to Uman has thrown the Breslov community into turmoil. Behadrei Hareidim reported that some of the most prominent Breslov rabbis have refused to pray in Uman's central 'Kloiz' synagogue if Berland arrives, sending coordinators scrambling to find an alternative site for the 7,000 worshippers.