Opinion: Despite his conviction for appalling acts, Rabbi Eliezer Berland is not barred from the state-funded Lag B’Omer festivities on Mt. Meron, in fact this filth is being honored by the organizers

The Lag B’Omer celebration is one of the most powerful and spiritual events in the Israeli-Jewish calendar.

It is not a religious decree or a biblical law, but rather a custom that began hundreds of years ago, as a pilgrimage to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The rabbi, also known as the “divine Mishnaic sage,” stood in opposition to the Roman rulers at the time, and continued to study and teach Jewish studies at a real risk to his life.

Lag B'Omer celebrations at Mt Meron
Lag B’Omer celebrations at Mt Meron


Lag B’Omer is unique in the Jewish calendar, for there is no other event that creates so much Jewish energy, from the estimated half a million believers – of all different stripes of religious Judaism and beyond.

But this year, a cloud hangs over the festivities, because of the participation of convicted sex offender and leader of the “Shuvu Banim” faction of the Breslov Hassidic movement. Rabbi Eliezer Berland.

Berland is expected to be one of the rabbis honored at the celebration who was to be invited to light a bonfire as part of the festivities.

Berland became a fugitive from justice after being charged with sexually assaulting women in his flock of followers.

He escaped from the country, but was ultimately arrested and repatriated from South Africa to stand trial on reduced charges as part of a plea agreement.

While in prison, Berland’s followers claimed he was suffering from ill health, enabling him to serve some of his sentence on house arrest.

When he had served his time, he returned to lead his followers who remained loyal to him throughout.

Convicted sex offender Rabbi Eliezer Berland  (Photo: Meshi Ben Ami)
Convicted sex offender Rabbi Eliezer Berland (Photo: Meshi Ben Ami)


The secret of Berland’s appeal remains an enigma. He regularly leads his people on dangerous late-night excursions into the Palestinian city of Nablus, to visit the site believed to be the tomb of Joseph, one of the biblical forefathers of the Jewish nation.

He often travels in convoys at breakneck speed in complete disregard of the law and putting the lives of his followers and innocent bystanders at risk.

But all of that aside, the immediate question remains, why the festivities on Mt. Meron, which are sponsored by the Israeli government, partake in this sham of including Berland in such a sacred event?

How he can be allowed to contaminate this religious holiday with his filth remains inexplicable.

But it is not too late. There are still a few of hours, before festivities begin, to stand up to his bullies and threats and stop him from entering the festival’s compound.

It a is simple choice. It’s just a question of deciding to do the right thing.

Not doing the right thing is a mark of shame on the organizers and on all of us.

As reported by Ynetnews